An ethnography of hope and resistance
against accumulation by dispossession
in rural West Bengal
ROLL NO- 91/ANT/121023
REGISTRATION NO- 142-1121-0067-09
EXAMINATION- M.SC. 2nd SEMESTER EXAMINATION 2013 IN ANTHROPOLOGY
DEPT. OF ANTHROPOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF CALCUTTA
An ethnography of hope and resistance
against accumulation by dispossession
in rural West Bengal
(Report submitted in connection with M.SC. 2ND semester examination,
Coarse no. - 9
Work done under the supervision of
Dr. Arnab Das
ROLL NO- 91/ANT/121007
REGISTRATION NO- 142-1121-0067-09
EXAMINATION- M.SC. 2nd SEMESTER EXAMINATION 2013 IN ANTHROPOLOGY
DEPT. OF ANTHROPOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF CALCUTTA
I have the pleasure to express my sincere gratefulness, indebtedness and
heartfelt thanks to my most respected teachers Dr. Arnab Das, Dr. Subrata
Sankar Bagchi of Department of Anthropology, University Of Calcutta
and Mr. Suman Nath of Department of Anthropology, Haldia Govt.
College, under whose guidance this work has been prepared.
Cooperation from all professors of our Department and the non-teaching
staffs of our college are too remembered with gratitude.
Last but not the least; warmest thanks are also due to my classmates for
their co-operation in the field and to my parents for their active cooperation and assistance.
INTRODUCTION ................................................................................................................................. 6
The Critical Framework of Theories, Discourses and Methodology ............................................ 6
Objectives and Techniques ......................................................................................................... 9
Ethnographic Strategy ............................................................................................................... 11
Critique and Reviews of Theories, Concepts and Discourses ....................................................... 17
On Industrialisation in West Bengal ....................................................................................... 18
SEZ and Industrialisation in India........................................................................................... 21
The main objectives of the SEZ Act in India are: ................................................................................... 22
The Problem .......................................................................................................................................... 22
The Theories .................................................................................................................................. 23
Basic Model of Structural Transformation ............................................................................... 23
Present Failure of Structural Change Development Theory .................................................... 25
Turning to Neoliberalism and Indian Practices of Development ............................................. 27
Introducing Neoliberalism ........................................................................................................ 29
Why the Neoliberal Turn? ........................................................................................................ 34
Introducing “Double Movement” of Karl Polanyi in Neoliberal Era ...................................... 38
Accumulation by Dispossession ............................................................................................... 43
Underconsumption or Overaccumulation?.................................................................................... 44
Land Seizure and Land Denial ......................................................................................... 53
Movements against Accumulation by Dispossession ............................................................... 54
Resistance to land alienation and primitive accumulation: forms and modalities... 57
Economic Liberalization in India .............................................................................................. 59
The Distributive Effects of Liberalization, Privatization, Globalization .................... 66
The Emerging Oligopolies: India ..................................................................................... 68
INNOVATIVE ....................................................................................................................... 75
GLOBAL ................................................................................................................................. 75
RESPONSIBLE ...................................................................................................................... 76
The Construction of Consent .................................................................................................... 77
Consent to Neoliberal Economy: India and West Bengal ......................................................... 80
The Problem of Land Acquisition in India................................................................................ 83
Successful land acquisition model ................................................................................... 88
The Villages ............................................................. 90
Villages around Jindal Steel Works ............................................................................................. 91
The setting ................................................................................................................................... 91
Area Map: .................................................................................................................................... 92
Institutions .................................................................................................................................. 92
Description of villages ............................................................................................................... 93
I PATHORCHATI .................................................................................................................. 93
II JAMBEDIA .......................................................................................................................... 95
III KULFENI ............................................................................................................................ 95
IV ASNASULI ....................................................................................................................... 100
V SRIKRISNAPUR ............................................................................................................... 102
VI NATUNDIH .................................................................................................................... 102
VII RAMRAIDIH.................................................................................................................. 103
VIII BASKOPNA .................................................................................................................. 103
Villages around Orissa Cement Limited .................................................................................. 105
Area Map: ................................................................................................................................... 106
The setting ................................................................................................................................. 106
I KULIPARA ......................................................................................................................... 107
II BEUNCHA ........................................................................................................................ 109
III KAMARMURI ................................................................................................................. 110
IV KULAPACHURIYA ....................................................................................................... 111
V BEUNCHA ........................................................................................................................ 111
The dispossession ................................................. 114
Contact, Deal and Agents: JSW .................................................................................................. 115
Contact, Deal and Agents: OCL ................................................................................................. 122
Techniques of Power and Persuasion: JSW .............................................................................. 124
Techniques of Power and persuasion: OCL ............................................................................. 127
Consent and submission: Rumours, Make belief, Expectations and Pressures—JSW ....... 128
Consent and submission: Rumours, Make belief, Expectations and Pressures—OCL ...... 132
Experiences of Land seizure and Land Denial: Resistance and Pain-JSW ........................... 133
Dispossession and Loss: JSW ..................................................................................................... 140
Dispossession and Loss: OCL .................................................................................................... 145
The Establishment: JSW .............................................................................................................. 146
The Establishment: OCL ............................................................................................................. 147
Extra-local Political Opponents and Local
Maoists/Jangal Bahini and Shanti Rakkha Committee/Harmads ................. 148
Trauma and Memories of Fear and Humiliation: Maoists and Harmads ........................... 149
JSW ............................................................................................................................................. 149
OCL ............................................................................................................................................ 171
Local Governance (Panchayat and Political Parties) ............................................................... 174
JSW ............................................................................................................................................. 174
OCL ............................................................................................................................................ 179
Chapter Five ........................................................................................................................................ 182
Local Consequences and Assessments of the Dispossessed ...................................................... 182
Promises of Power and State of Delay ...................................................................................... 183
JSW ............................................................................................................................................. 183
OCL ............................................................................................................................................ 188
Perception of Environment ......................................................................................................... 189
JSW ............................................................................................................................................. 189
OCL ............................................................................................................................................ 190
Chapter Six ......................................................................................................................................... 191
The Open Reportier of Experience ................................................................................................ 191
Introduction .............................................................................................................................. 193
Elementary... ............................................................................................................................. 193
Way to Ocl ................................................................................................................................. 195
Political situation ...................................................................................................................... 197
Their plight................................................................................................................................ 198
Way to JSW ............................................................................................................................... 198
Their Plight................................................................................................................................ 200
Conclusion: ............................................................................................................................... 200
Chapter Seven ..................................................................................................................................... 202
The Theory Contributed and Conclusion ..................................................................................... 202
Table of Figures
Figure 1 OCL building ............................................................................................................ 73
Figure 2 Map showing the Acquired area by JSW project and how the villages are scattered
around the perifery of the project. and also in extreem left National highway can be seen
which is their connection with outside world. ......................................................................... 92
Figure 3 Show the lands and how dry it is due to absence of needed water to irregate it. ...... 94
Figure 4 a peasent cultivating land in front of JSW project. Previously who had land inside
the JSW. ................................................................................................................................... 95
Figure 5 Board of OCL in fornt of gate, with it’s its full address.......................................... 105
Figure 6 the map of the village beauch drawn with the help of a villager. And in the right side
showing the OCL. .................................................................................................................. 106
Figure 7 Agricultural land in Gobru where potatto and paddy was being cultivated. ......... 107
Figure 8 showing the school that is present in the villager which now have classes upto
standerd 8............................................................................................................................... 109
Figure 9 non metaled road toward pathorchati, road was surrounded by forest and the trees
seen the pictures are eucalyptus tree. .................................................................................... 135
Figure 10 villagers demolised the wall so that they could enter the premises of jsw where they
left their cattel to feed and they also bring fuel wood from there. .......................................... 137
Figure 11 Places where villagers wasent been able to demolish the wall they have put ladder
in the wall to cross the gaurd wall. ........................................................................................ 138
The Critical Framework of Theories, Discourses and
Approach, Objectives and Strategy
My abhorrence of neoliberalism helps to explain my legitimate
anger when I speak of the injustices to which the ragpickers
among humanity are condemned. It also explains my total lack
of interest in any pretension of impartiality, I am not impartial,
or objective . . . [this] does not prevent me from holding always
a rigorously ethical position. (Freire, 1998, p. 22)
While it was our mission to get underneath the surface of the neoliberal efforts of
new industrialisation in India, and here in West Bengal, through corporate capitals,
as anthropologists we selected to go native not for both the corporate capital and
those dispossessed by the capital, but seeing things as aligned to the dispossessed,
voiceless, poor and powerless farmers, engaged in the fray and compromise with the
power centres at will of running industries and giving employments to the
thousands of needy and suitable locals and outsiders. Our position was critically
affiliated to the dispossessed, the remaining farmers, their voices, stories, narratives
of emotion and reasoning and so on, thus making a road not stopping us to be at one
with the villagers, but to turning toward the interpretive reflexivity of our
involvement in the issues already built up with some earlier theories on similar
issues done by ethnographers and other scholars majorly on the theories and cases of
“accumulation by dispossession” and Polanyi’s “double movement” (like Adnan,
2013; Amanor-Wilks, 2006; Bo Nielsen, 2010; Dunn, 2007; Ganguly-Scrase and Scrase,
2005; Kakani, Raghu Ram, & Tigga 2010; Kendall, 2003; Kumar, 2011; Levien, 2006;
2011, 2012; Levien and Paret, 2012; Muukkonen, 2006; Sarcar, 2007; Shani, 2004;
Springer, 2011; Stewart, 2010; Thorsen, 2009) Thus some kind of objectivity to
envisage the reality of the farmers around two industrial efforts of OCL and JSW
was pre-destined. But we kept it clear that theories should not master us, but
theories are to master over reality for knowledge making. Our ethnography is
neither solely critical nor solely interpretive, but their mixes help us taking side of
the dispossessed, yet the picture beyond and beneath interpretive construction is
sent not out of sight. What we obtained from the villagers by our cautious and
sensitive exploration of facts of hope, trust-making and breaking of trust, fear,
trauma, helplessness, insecurity, sense of loss, confusion and mistrust to the
outsiders, like us are kept alive to give the alternative picture of land grabbing in
Salboni, not as win-win case, but as a not-so-successful suppression of the
dispossessed. The hegemonic power brokers, like the government, political parties
and their agents were produced by the discourse of modernisation and
development, which has played a one-eyed motivation, persuasion and pressure to
the villagers to welcome industries, but failed to erase the traces of resistance against
it, similar to all the cases of dispossession by neoliberal force across the world. It
was post-dispossession period that the fieldwork took place. Thus, it was all about
memory and experience of effects of the past time, which we could get from the
people of that area. It rendered the whole issue of dispossession more tangible
because the villagers had passed the time for coping with the loss, pain, insecurity
and hope. Moreover, the industrialisation was temporally associated with the shift of
power from one political party (CPIM) to the other (TMC) through a long session of
bitter political rivalry locally centred on the state-political resistance to Maoist
penetration implicitly against the industrialisation and explicitly against CPI(M)
with the implicit support of TMC in that area. The issue of dispossession, thus, can
neither be untangled from such political conflict. For all the reasons the direction of
our study acquired a multifaceted reality of exploration and investigation.
Interviews could be used in a copybook situation, rather more sensible and
situational application of varied types of interviews and observation had to
accompany every step of fieldwork which spanned the short duration of twelve (12)
days of February and March in Salboni block of Paschim Medinipore district of West
Bengal. The team was composed of twenty four students and two supervisors.
Objectives and Techniques
Finally the objectives and associated techniques of the study turned out to be
(a) To prepare ourselves with the necessary sensitivity of the three major theories
in order to relate and obtain the narratives and other data from the villagers
by interviews and observation. The three theories are
Development by Structural transformation from agriculture to industry
pioneered by Arthur Lewis’
Double movement theory of Karl Polanyi’ and
Critique of Accumulation by dispossession of neoliberal economy
proposed by David Harvey;
(b) It was necessary to get the critical analysis of discourse of Industrialisation in
West Bengal presented by Buddhdeb Bhattacharyya, the erstwhile Chief
Minister of West Bengal, to look for the consent of people and hegemonies the
subjective positions of people in and looking for power;
(c) The selection of an area of West Bengal, which has gone through the
operation of such industrialisation finally culminated in the selection of
Salbani of Paschim Medinipore district of West Bengal as suitable for a shortterm fieldwork to obtain data for examining the compatibility of the theories;
(d) The ethnographic plan to cover the all the villages around the two industries
for collection, verification and intensification of the data with the effort of
twenty four students, who are already trained to participate in fieldwork in
rural areas, supervised by two teachers;
(e) Except ethnography (intuiting a mix of critical and interpretive ones), the
methodological shape was not pre-fixed, but let to emerge from the actual
contact, rapport and suitability of situations of the villagers. Therefore the
sample of research participants and informants was of purposive, snowball
and availability types;
(f) While the students beginning to collect data from the villages adjoining the
National Highway 6, the supervisor advanced to link all the near and far
villages and the available respondents ahead of the students, thus facilitating
the work onwards to entangle all the villages in the period of twelve days;
(g) Finally the ethnography is an articulation of
the composition and location of the villages,
the issues of experiencing dispossession of land and dis-embedding life
in the habitus of the villagers,
the aspects of struggle/resistance and coping against the events,
the experience and perception of the political agents of the localities,
the rise of new subjective positions of the villagers,
the rise of the techniques of control by the industries,
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the rise of new political subjects connecting the old and new settings of
politics in the area, and
critical, interpretive, reflexively objective evaluation of the theories and
experiences of the fieldworkers.
The era of critical ethnography commenced in the late 1950s and early 1960s and was
initiated by the dominant social and cultural reality of the time. This is the time of the
demise of colonialism and of the inward turn of classical ethnography to explore
marginalised groups. This shift emanated from the realisation that researching marginalised,
oppressed and deviant groups using classical ethnography was, ironically, not the solution,
but rather the problem to the social status of these groups. The marginalisation, oppression
and deviation of such groups primarily resulted from the fact that they either had no voice
or words of their own to comprehensibly express themselves or that the looking glass under
which the researcher gazed at these groups was distorted by the male, white, middle class
lens (Denzin, 1997; Faubion, 2001; Skeggs, 2001; Gubrium and Holstein, 2002; Lecompte,
Thus, classical ethnography for these researchers seemed to miss its core aim of
genuine and true representation and instead represented the dominant images and spoke
the words of the prevalent culture. Therefore, not only was there a lack of understanding of
these groups, but most importantly the theories developed via classical ethnography
perpetuated their marginalised and oppressed status (Faubion, 2001; Skeggs, 2001; Prior,
2007). This is the time that academia in both America and Europe opens its doors to ‘nonmainstream’ researchers that were not ‘of white European-American male’ orientation
(Lecompte, 2002: 285) and who were eager to explore via ethnography the experiences and
origins of their own misrepresentation. Furthermore, these views were blended initially with
Marxist, Neo-Marxist and Weberian theories and consequently with feminist, critical theory,
race and political theory (Lecompte, 2002) to develop a genre termed as critical ethnography,
which, as classical ethnography, acquired momentum and is still in use today, but is
distinguished from classical ethnography by a set of features and aims that are not only
11 | P a g e
different but at some points opposing. The aim of critical ethnography is not to represent the
participant’s world as a linear, definitive and conclusive reality, but to disclose the
underlying synergies that actually create that reality. It is an analytic procedure, rather than
a descriptive one, where the culture is conceived as a historically bounded formation
(Faubion, 2001) and people’s views are anticipated to emerge not from ‘nowhere’, but are
always views from ‘somewhere’ in particular (Spencer, 2001). The ethnographer’s role is to
untangle the historical contingencies and reveal the cultural substratum or habitus that
artfully, albeit invisibly, influences and even creates specific world views and cultures
(Pollner and Emerson, 2001; Lecompte, 2002).
Thus, critical ethnography veers from the epistemology of a value-free and objective
social reality to an epistemology aiming at unpacking, interpreting and eventually giving
voice to the muted, exploited and powerless groups of people (Gordon et al., 2001;
Macdonald, 2001; Skeggs, 2001; Smith, 2001). The aim of critical ethnography is to uncover
the patronising, patriarchal, gendered, racial, dominant, hegemonic and authorial voices and
languages that are incorporated within the culture and determine the positionality of
individuals in society by shaping both thought and reality (Rolfe, 1999; Gordon et al., 2001;
Smith, 2001). Hence, the mantra of ‘telling it as it is’ that summed up the epistemology of
classical ethnography is now replaced by the mantra of ‘giving voice’.
Whilst critical ethnography is sceptical of the objective and value-free research that
can capture the real, nonetheless it does not denounce the fact that such a reality may
actually exist. In a sense, critical ethnography accepts that there probably is some ‘true’ and
‘real’ reality, it is just that this reality is blurred, distorted and manipulated and therefore we
do not have direct access to it. However, in a quite unyieldingly fashion, the representation
of this reality is the secondary feature of critical ethnography and what constitutes the
foreground of such a research is the dialogue developed between researcher and participant,
the emancipation and empowerment of both, and the eventual transformation of the lived
reality (Gordon et al., 2001; Lecompte, 2002). Thus the scope of such research is not to
discover what is true or real, but to discover what or who is blurring, distorting and
Therefore critical ethnography in a last twist becomes more of a political adventure
of change, where knowledge, politics, ideology, discourse and action all merge. The
12 | P a g e
prominent feature of critical ethnography is not to discover what is good or bad, right or
wrong in any absolute sense, but what is useful and practical and how, through the process
of praxis, daily reality can be transformed (Denzin, 1997; Smith and Deemer, 2000; Spencer,
2001). This is accomplished via a dialectic spiral of empathic and egalitarian interaction,
which goes beyond direct participant observations so as to include methods of data
collection, such as interviewing and analysis of historical documentation (Heyl, 2001; Rock,
One of the limitations of critical ethnography is the over-emphasis on marginalised
groups and potentially missing out on important data as to how others that are not
conceived as marginalised view these groups of people (Thupayagale-Tshweneagae, 2008).
Inherent in all critical ethnographic studies is the assumption that contemporary societies
have systematic inequalities complexly maintained and reproduced by cultures that
constrain human existence (Thomas, 1993; Cook, 2005). Hence, critical ethnography aims to
go beneath the surface world of accepted appearances so as to reveal the darker, oppressive
side of social life (Thomas, 1993; Carspecken, 2001). Furthermore, the critical ethnographic
topic is something the researcher is passionate about and is able to relate to personally, as a
kind of a slice of the researcher’s social existence (Thomas, 1993). This assumes that the
researcher is not a stranger or naive to the research topic, but on the contrary is subjectively
related to the topic and presents this subjectivity using reflection (Thomas, 1993; Hardcastle
et al., 2006).
In addition, the participants are purposefully selected for what they know, rather
than what they randomly observed to capture the mundane (Hardcastle et al., 2006; Green
and Thorogood, 2009). Hence, whilst observations are not excluded, nonetheless interviews
are considered as the hallmark of critical ethnography since they open realms of meaning
that permeate beyond rote information or finding the ‘truth’ to analysing and synthesising
ideas so as to discover specific systems relationships and reveal hidden meanings
(Carspecken, 2001; Cook, 2005). The interviews take a dialogical and reflective form, and the
research questions are more confrontational and prodding than classical ethnography in
order to dig below surface appearance and overcome the parroting of cultural or
disciplinary rhetoric so as to expose personal, cultural and political aspects of decision
making (Thomas, 1993; Hardcastle et al., 2006). Eventually, data are interpreted by invoking
13 | P a g e
sociological and reflective imagination, rather than merely presented the findings, so as to
create images and metaphors in order to re-frame the familiar in a new social light (Thomas,
1993). Finally, critical ethnography concludes by challenging the status quo, providing some
form of change for existing social structures, and adding an explicit political purpose and
social activism element to the research project so as to empower people and transform their
political and social status (Cook, 2005; Hardcastle et al., 2006).
The interpretive ethnographic genre takes a post-modernist and post-structuralist
turn, maintaining that truth cannot merely be out there, because it cannot exist
independently of the human mind and that, simply because sentences cannot exist or be out
there on their own, sentences are always the product of humans. This is what Rorty (1989: 5)
argued in a different context when he purported that ‘the world is out there, but
descriptions of the world are not’. For interpretive ethnographers, the main argument is that
the text cannot ever impeccably represent in any formal, linear and absolute order the
researched context (Geertz, 1973; Denzin, 1997). For interpretive ethnography language is
not a mere medium between the self and the world that can accurately represent either the
world or the self, rather language is a construct of humans that is used as a tool to construct,
create and fabricate both the self and the world (Rorty, 1989; Plummer, 2001).
The aim of interpretive ethnography is not to produce a great amount of undigested
information, but to provide accounts that possess depth, detail, emotionality, nuance and
imagination of the participants’ worlds. The eventual aim of interpretive ethnography is to
provide clarifying, inventive and creative tellings of old stories in new ways, once these old
stories no longer speak to us (Denzin, 2000; Spencer, 2001). In essence interpretive
ethnography is a set of stories that are crafted by the researcher and shaped by literary
convention (Daly, 1997). These ethnographic stories frame the researcher’s experiences and
interpretations, and are used as a tool by the researcher to understand others in relation to
the researcher, hence excavating the meaningfulness of sites (Daly, 1993; Bryant, 2003). For
interpretive ethnography there is no problem to be solved, but rather a mystery to be
personally and culturally engaged. The interpretive ethnographic study produces stories
that join together at least two disparate storylines – the story of the self who has the stake,
asks the questions and does the interpreting, and the stories of others who help us find or
create meanings (Goodall, 2003). Therefore, ethnographic stories become a constructed
14 | P a g e
understanding of the constructed participant’s constructed point of view (Plummer,
2001).Furthermore, Ricoeur (1971) maintains that the loss of context seems to be an
inevitable result of the process of textualisation and Denzin (1999) suggests that the ideal
correspondence of context and text is not only a futile impossibility, but at the same time a
debilitating limitation that impedes more creative, evocative and imaginative ways of telling
peoples’ tales and making sense of their world. Thus interpretive ethnography blurs the
boundaries between the factual and fictional, where real research and real lives are written
in fictional form with the intention not to explain reality and the world, but to evoke it, not
to represent it but to perform it (Denzin, 1997; Plummer, 2001). What the interpretive
ethnographer can only do is to produce works that speak clearly and powerfully of the
immediacy and intensity about the researched worlds (Denzin, 2000; Cortazzi, 2001;
Emerson et al., 2001).
The process of data collection in interpretive ethnography begins with a personal
moment, a narrative or a confession of the researcher (Bryant, 2006). This brings the author
(researcher) firmly into the text and the text becomes personalised signal that the researcher
is now engaged in a reflexive project (Plummer, 2001; Bryant, 2006). It is asserted that
researchers cannot write interpretive ethnographies without informants, but more
importantly, researchers could not write interpretive ethnographic texts without themselves.
Hence, the two crucial elements of interpretive ethnography are, firstly, the inclusion of the
researcher’s reflective and reflexive accounts in the interpretive ethnographic text, and
secondly the omniscient third person writing of research is abandoned in favour of first
person writing with the ‘I’ creeping into the researcher’s ethnographic text (Daly, 1997;
Plummer, 2001; Goodall, 2003).
Data collection in interpretive ethnography is multi-sited and multi-level with the
researcher focusing on specific moments of experience in order to extrapolate meaning, for
example on a rare moment or moments of conflict or struggle (Bryant, 2006; Wing- Chung,
2008). This approach suggests that data collection must look beyond the single context or
geographical area to which the community belongs. Data collection in interpretive
ethnography diffuses to multiple contexts where social and cultural activities, such as
relationships, discourses and power relations, produce themselves, and as such they are
pertinent not to one site, but usually overlap with other sites. In addition, there are different
15 | P a g e
levels of connectedness and relationships between sites and individuals that the interpretive
ethnographer seeks to enact, understand and interpret (Wing-Chung, 2008).
Thus, data collection is selective, cross-sectional, and diverse. The end result of such
a project is a multi-vocal composite assemblage of a compelling and well-plotted story,
understandings of processes and performances by criticising how things are and imagining
how things can be (Denzin, 2000; Faubion, 2001; Plummer, 2001). The interpretive
ethnographic text rejects linguistic norms or ideals and experiments with scholarly methods
and forms of expression (King, 1999; Goodall, 2003). The interpretive ethnographic text is
typified as a pastiche or montage, which includes successive layering of seemingly unrelated
images that the researcher manages to cohere in some fashion. In the data analysis section
the researcher juxtaposes sites and relationships, comparing emergent issues or objects of
study that were not known before hand, and contributes in constructing an account of
different, complexly connected real-world sites of investigation (Wing-Chung, 2008). The
researcher in the analysis process traverses back-and-forth between the everyday world of
the actor and the world of the observer, acquiring the task of the translator in order to
construct and produce an echo of the original, but not the originality of the original (WingChung, 2008). In other words, the analysis inevitably is a textual construct containing the
authorial authority of the researcher.
In our study we took the side of the dispossessed villages, low in position to wield
power over their conditions of livelihood contrary to the power brokers like the corporate,
government and the political parties. Thus it is the explicit critical ethnographic stand that
sutures interpretively the cross-sectional data of the villagers over time and the villages and
varied sections of them. The writing goes on how Bourdieu and Wacquant (1992) advocate
an epistemologically reflexive sociology and ethnography grounded in everyday cultural
practices. We work back and forth between field experience and theory, cultivating a
theoretical reflexivity that produces a detached, objective, authoritative account of the world
being studied (Foley, 2002, p. 476).
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Critique and Reviews of Theories, Concepts and Discourses
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On Industrialisation in West Bengal
The Marxist, Vol. XXIII, 1, January to March, 2007
EXCERPTS and CRITIQUE
“I would like to discuss our overall outlook on the development of West Bengal’s economy after the formation of the Left
Front Government on the issues of agriculture, industry and services. Some differences have been expressed regarding our
purpose and objectives.
It is generally acknowledged that we have no ‘model’ [but even the construction is a model. Later it can also be shown that
how the whole construct of industrialisation is based on classical modernisation theory] in front of us to emulate and
follow. It will indeed be a mistake to follow a specific model [It does not clarify why. Is it indicating the uniqueness of West
Bengal as non-comparable to application of any model a priori] . We have closely observed and seen the changes in and the
development of the Chinese economy and the Vietnamese economy. We are trying to ascertain facts there. In Latin America,
a kind of new leftism has appeared and changes have occurred. We have gone through an interesting book called Dispatches
from Latin America. We have gathered from the book the thoughts and ideas of the Brazilian president Lula, of the
Venezuelan head of state Chavez, and of the Chilean Socialist Party. We are trying to understand and realise the purport of
the changes taking place [There is no concern over the development models of other developing countries]. However, the
fact is that we have to determine our own path, taking into account the reality of the situation in India and the constraints of
the Left forces in the state within the present framework [Absence of any comparable situation in the rest of the world] .
We have to offer a workable alternative. ..... With regard to the agricultural situation, we must look back to the 1960s when
a strong peasant movement started. During the two short-lived United Front Governments of 1967 (9 months) and 1969 (13
months) the movement got accentuated. That movement saw economic and political changes taking place in rural West
Bengal in a remarkable way. The zamindari system received a severe blow [the capitalist turn]. Land was transferred to the
kisans through a struggle for possession. Politically, the influence of the Congress based on the zamindari system was curbed,
resulting in change in the political correlation in favour of the Left.
...... After the installation of the Left Front Government in 1977 the land movement gathered further momentum and the
transfer of land from the zamindars to the poor and marginal farmers was given administrative recognition. This was done
through the granting of ‘patta’ rights to the kisans in possession of what was previously zamindari land parcels. The Left Front
Government has distributed ‘patta’ rights for 1.3 million acres of land—the bulk of the agricultural land, in fact, of this state.
83% of the agricultural land is in the possession of the poor and marginal kisans [maximum utilisation and engagement
agricultural labour power]. We have won several court cases relating to land. Recently we have got possession of 30,000
acres of land after winning court cases. 800 acres of land have been distributed at Khejuri in Midnapore East amongst 1200
The process of distribution of ‘patta’ rights has been accompanied by ‘Operation Barga’ (recognition of the right of sharecroppers) [embedding of intensive agriculture for food security and embedding of state] —something that is new and
unique, a process that has received high praise from those who are engaged in research in agrarian relations and matters
related to agriculture. It is important to recall here that without the surge of kisan struggles, the distribution of barga rights
would not have been possible...... A part of the process of redistributive land reforms, the recording of barga rights has
covered 1.5 million in number. Meanwhile, with the three-tier Panchayati system in place, the poor of the rural sector
started to become assertive. It is noteworthy that in our state both the bulk of the agricultural land and the majority of the
panchayats are in the hands of the rural poor. This is the consequence of the process of land reforms. ....
......[indicating a deeply entrenched emotional attachment of the peasants with their own land has been created over the
three decades in West Bengal and the party in power actually acted as a facilitator for that process].
A direct result of the land reforms programme is the increase in agricultural production. Against the disastrous all-India
agricultural growth rate of less than 2 per cent, West Bengal has been able maintain a sustainable growth rate of 4 per cent
for more than last ten years. With massive aman and boro paddy production this year, the food grain production itself will
exceed 15 million metric tones (MT). We have been self-sufficient in the production of paddy for the last three years. There
have been difficulties in crop diversification. Besides paddy production, we are trying to concentrate on pulses and oil
seeds—but not with notable success. We were able to procure 1.7 million MT of paddy last year. This year the target is 2.1
lakh MT. Excerpts and Critiques of theproducing the of Industrialisation in West Bengal since last year
he ..... We have also been successful in discourse highest quantity of vegetables in the country
18 | P a g e
(despite the paucity of land).
Page3 & 4
We could produce 11.6 million MT of vegetables on 5.4 million hectares of land [gaining food security]. Paddy production
this year will exceed 11.6 million MT. We also hold the top position in the production of fish. Our fish production is 1.4
million MT. ......
Our success is reflected in the increased purchasing power of the kisans in the villages [more than subsistence economy,
but not industrialised]. Our kisans possess the highest purchasing power of industrial goods in the whole of the country
today in the retail sector, be it cement, radio, cycle, motorcycle, or apparel. No other state has 8 per cent growth rate. Only
Punjab and Haryana are slightly ahead of us in terms of productivity. ....... A few negative tendencies were mentioned in the
primary report that we received on the eve of the Assembly elections last year. The fragmentation of land in the wake of
the land reforms among the successors of the original owners have contributed to the reduction of the produce
[producing surplus labour in traditional sector]. This fragmentation of land is a major problem.
Owing to the country’s economic policies, the prices of all inputs such as irrigation, water, seeds, pesticide, and fertiliser
have increased manifold [traditional sector becoming counter-productive]. It is becoming difficult for farmers to get
minimum procurement prices for their products. The question of remunerative prices does not arise. With expenditure
rising high, the cost of agricultural production has gone up. There are other specific problems. Because of lack of viable
marketing mechanism, many vegetables produced are left to rot in the fields—tomatoes in Coochbehar or cabbage in
Murshidabad, for example. Of the total production of 11.6 million MT, 10-15 per cent is spoilt in the field because we do not
have adequate means of preservation [problem of industrialisation of agriculture]. Another problem is value addition.
Currently, we can fix added value for 3 percent of the produce only.
Another problem concerns the society and the mind-set. The members of a kisan family till the land through generations.
The first generation, despite having received education, may yet be willing to accompany the father to the field. The second
generation does not. They are not willing to go back to the fields after passing out from schools and colleges. We must
ponder whether this is a progressive or a regressive frame of mind. We must preserve the success of the agricultural
production and ensure our food security. Any deviation will harm us [following Lewis’s emphasis on both the traditional
and modern sector].
Then if the success in vegetable production can be conserved through a marketing mechanism and value is added to the
produce, the scope for employment in the food processing industry will increase. A few important facts need to be
mentioned at this point. The greatest amount of investment in the state is in the iron and steel sector. The next in line are
chemicals, petrochemicals, and food processing. Among the big companies, Frito-lay, Dabur in North Bengal is functioning.
Dabur went for processing mangoes and pineapple. Later, they are going to undertake processing of tomatoes. In the food
processing industry, ....... . We do believe that if we try to stay in place and enjoy the success we have achieved we will
stagnate and drift backwards. What then is the alternative? We have to note certain facts before dealing with the issue of
industrialisation. In the economy of West Bengal, the share of agriculture is 26 per cent, industry 24 per cent, and services
50 per cent [central logic of structural transformation from traditional to modern sector and indicator of market being
partially embedded]. This is better than the situation in other states. The service sector includes education, health,
entertainment, hotel, tourism, telecom and software, call centers, etc. The trend of the service sector occupying a 50 per
cent share of the economy is in keeping with that in the rest of the world.
Look at the relative figures of the agricultural sector and the industrial sector. It is not correct to hold that this is the end of
the road and the end of history. We must bring about changes gradually, and I use the word with deliberation. We must
maintain food security but increase the share of the industrial sector, gradually reducing that of agriculture [central logic
of structural transformation from traditional to modern sector].. This is the general trend of the economy. Marxists hold
that development is from agriculture to industry. We reiterate that we do not have a model to follow. ....... However, the
transition from agriculture to industry is an inevitable phenomenon both in capitalism and in socialism. A few facts can be
cited to bolster this line of argument. 65 per cent of the population of this state is involved with economic activities. They
are involved with agriculture and allied activities like animal resources and fisheries [labour surplus, but market logic is
still not embedded for this 65%]. Is this a picture depicting high standards? We cannot agree with the postulate that
agriculture is the last and final stage of development and that we have to stay at the place that we have reached. 63 per cent
of land in this state is agricultural. [central logic of structural transformation from traditional to modern sector]
19 | P a g e
Page5 & 6
This includes, as in Purulia and Bankura, 4 per cent rain-fed land where agriculture depends on rainfall for irrigation. Fallow
land amounts to just 1 per cent. The all-India figure here is 17 per cent. We have started to experiment in fallow land to grow
plants and a variety of fruits. 13 per cent of land is under forest cover, which we are trying to increase further to improve the
environment, keeping in view the issue of global warming. Thus, we are left with 23 per cent of land that is urban and
industrial. The opposition asks us not to go beyond that 23 per cent and stay in place with 126 municipalities and
corporations—and with no more urbanisation and industrialisation. This is a position, which is not acceptable [core logic of
development through the transition from rural to urban].
Under capitalism, in India, the expropriation of the land of the peasantry is taking place in a brutal manner. In our drive for
industrialisation in West Bengal, we will not proceed this way. We are committed to protect the interests of the farmers. If
land needs to be taken, it will be done by providing those owning and dependent on land a fair deal, without coercion [not
detailed the fair deal and the way to consensus with the farmers]. We have ascertained facts through a land survey, and I
have kept the Left Front informed. We have received detailed report of vested land, and nonagricultural land district-wise,
mouza-wise and block-wise. ..... We can tell investors and entrepreneurs about the locational alternatives that are there and
they can choose. In a market economy, we can hardly ignore their priorities [silent about the negotiation and control over
the market]. The priorities have a practical basis. Iron and steel industries cannot be set up away from coalmines. IT
industries require airport facilities. .....
Now I would like to concentrate my discussion on some specific industries. The State Government’s industrial policy was
declared by former Chief Minister Jyoti Basu in 1994 [almost at par with the time of Indian liberalisation policy of 1991].
During visits abroad, the attempt was made to convince investors about the investment-friendly role of our Government. It
was stressed that investment would be made on the basis of mutually advantageous terms. They would earn profits and at
the same time create employment opportunities [privatisation of land, cheap labour and other dictates of liberal market is
not critically mentioned] . They would come here for the purposes of capitalist development. The opposition accuses us of
having agreed to capitalist development. Is it possible to talk of socialist development in one state of our country? What we
can do at the most in this structure is to bring in some alternative Left policies. This comprises land reforms, protecting public
sector, some initiatives in education and health, and so on [state protection and intervention]. The Party Congress and the
Central Committee have said that this means there is no need for foreign investment where we have the technology. We are
not to allow FDI in retail trade.
..... IBM, Cognizant, and GE Capital have evinced interest in investing in the IT sector and we need their units. We will await
the final denouement of the software debate. We must do something about our young men and women who are computerliterate and know English [Direct incorporation of neoliberal policy of industrialisation]. Mitsubishi Chemicals invested Rs.
1.7 billion at Haldia, and they are willing to open a second unit there—we really cannot refuse them. .... Jindals have chosen
to set up a Rs. 35.5 billion steel plant at Salboni in Midnapore West . The message that we would like to send to
entrepreneurs abroad is that we need private capital. The Party Programme has been changed. Earlier it talked about state
takeover of all monopoly and foreign capital. We do not really hold that position now. The last Party Congress resolved that
there would be no FDI in the retail trade. .....
The opposition is of the view (and a few Left Front partners) that the foreign capitalists are rushing in on their own to exploit
us. The actual picture is different. There is tough competition all around. We cannot discourage investment. Had there been
an alternative to the present form of investment we would have opted for it. The idea is that we do need private capital,
with limits set, and not everywhere [The exposure to neoliberal market is proposed with caution, but not mentioning the
nature of caution and the role of the state].
...... The young men and women of West Bengal are also at the forefront of IT. We have 68,000 primary schools, 16,000
secondary schools, 450 colleges, 68 engineering colleges and 18 universities. Agriculture and villages are important but they
alone cannot comprise the Left alternative for the torch-bearers of the 21st century.
We cannot deny the viability of IT and bio-technology. We have set up a bio-technology park in association with Kharagpur
IIT. The emphasis is on small, medium, and manufacturing industry. The chemical hub once set up will produce employment
in the ancillary and downstream units as they have done at Haldia. We are also going in for clusters—foundries in Howrah for
20 | P a g e
example, and also plastic manufacturing clusters and apparel manufacturing clusters. The manufacturing and IT industries
would absorb vocationally trained students and science graduates. .....
Page 7 and 8
pecial Economic Zones
(SEZs) have, over the
past five years, become
grabbing land from farmers. In
March 2007, 14 people were
killed and many more raped
and injured by police and partythugs
Bengal, for refusing to give their
land for a petrochemical SEZ
promoted by an
followed shook the state and
(contributing to the eventual
downfall of the former) and led
to a cancellation of the project, a
temporary moratorium on SEZs
Nandigram was the tip of the
iceberg, as farmers across the
21 | P a g e
Then there is the Singur issue. .... For the small car project the Tatas
would get a concession of Rs. 18,000 per 0.1 million rupees. First, we
had to persuade the Tatas to come to West Bengal with the small car
project (. They were shown locations in Kharagpur and in some other
places. .... The alternative was to tell the Tatas to go away to
Uttarakhand. The unit once set up will create many employment
opportunities in the ancillary and downstream sectors. The land that
was identified for the production unit at Singur was single crop and
double-crop. We calculated and found that the motor car factory at
Singur would create large job opportunities and improve the quality
of life there [The mathematics of compensation and the possibility of
the marginalisation of the farmers not alluded]. Mandays produced
will be much more. The work of setting up the boundary wall for the
factory itself has created jobs for 3,000 people. By 2008, the
production will take off. The Tatas will set up primary schools and
health services and they have started training local people. ... It is the
moral responsibility of the Government to ensure that the affected
people benefit from the economic opportunities, which will be created
by the motor car factory.
There has been a kind of unbalanced zeal about Special Economic
Zones (SEZs) in Delhi. Is the SEZ for industry or is it for real estate
development? This is a crucial question. Proposals for SEZs are
coming. Tamil Nadu alone has submitted proposals for 86 SEZs. In
China SEZs have been set up for technology-transfer in which the
people of China are very efficient. They started with six SEZs. We
have started with 450 in India. The Left has sent important
amendments to the SEZ Act and rules [No radical proposal for the
control over the SEZ or embedding of the neoliberal capital growth is
There is no need to hurry. Let the debate over SEZ come to a
conclusion and then we can look at the project again. I have asked the
Party to see that the SEZ debate is brought to a conclusion. We do
need the chemical hub where the Indian Oil Corporation is the primary
investor. The downstream units will produce textiles from polymer,
and rubber from butadiene. This is needed for economic development
of the area and the state. The opposition has brought hoodlums from
outside of Nandigram and engaged in sheer violence. We did commit
the initial error and we need to proceed with great caution. The land
issue is a very sensitive issue. The unrecorded bargadars of
Nandigram and Singur feel deprived and they have turned violent.
They are poor people. We must carry them with us. If we fail to do
that, the distinction between us and the Governments in states like
Maharashtra and Gujarat will be gone [Yet the zeal of revolt of the
farmers not properly addressed or seems to be understood]. The
Left always looks after the interests of the poor. With agriculture as
the basis, we shall build industry. This process must be well planned
and the interests of the poor must be safeguarded. .....”
A Special Economic Zone (SEZ) covers a broad range of more specific
zone types, like Free Trade Zones (FTZ), Export Processing Zones
domain to acquire and transfer
(EPZ), Free Zones (FZ), Industrial Estates (IE), Free Ports, Urban
Enterprise Zones and others. A single SEZ can contain multiple
‘specific’ zones within its boundaries. SEZs have been implemented
their land to private companies for
using a variety of institutional structures across the world ranging
the development of these hyper-
from fully public (government operator, government developer,
liberalized enclaves. These ‘land
government regulator) to ‘fully’ private (private operator, private
wars’ have led to the cancellation,
developer, public regulator).
delay and downsizing of projects
across the country, including two
As of 31st October 2011, 583 formal approvals have been granted for
setting up SEZs, of
which 381 have been notified and 143 are exporting
Industries outside of Mumbai and
The main objectives of the SEZ Act in India are:
Generation of additional economic activity.
(supposed to be India’s largest
Promotion of exports of goods and services.
Promotion of investment from domestic and foreign sources.
Creation of employment opportunities.
Development of infrastructure facilities.
ever foreign direct investment)
and all the SEZs approved in the
state of Goa. In places such as
Kalinganagar and Jagatsinghpur
in Orissa, Raigad in Maharashtra,
This process of planning and development of SEZ is under question,
as the states in which the SEZs have been approved are facing
Satankulam in Tamil Nadu, local
protest movements or outright
resistance to land acquisition have
intense protests, from the farming community, accusing the
Government of forcibly snatching fertile land from them, at heavily
discounted prices as against the prevailing prices in the commercial
real estate industry.
emerged. These conflicts and the
stoppage or stalling of high-profile investments have created great concern within the state
and capitalist class that farmers will be the largest obstacle to India’s emergence as a ‘world
class’ economic power.
ur t ethnographic study is on two such private industries, non-SEZ one of OCL
(Orissa Cement Limited) and SEZ of JSW (Jindal Steel Works). Both are regarded
as cases of successful land acquisition. Our Question is whether it is so and how
and why it took place with which consequences.
22 | P a g e
The present study of the villages of Salboni block in Paschim Medinipur district is about the
process of contemporary industrialisation in India during the neoliberal, globalising era of
the World. It is a time when the developing countries like India is integrating its economy
with the global economy and thus embedding neoliberal market economy in the society,
especially in agricultural society not enough exposed to neoliberal market and facing the
dilemma of state regarding development and growth.
We have considered three main theoretical strands to address the issue of industrialisation
in a specific rural site of an Indian province of West Bengal. The issue is nonetheless is
linked to every major economic question of India.
(a) At first, the issue of development is understood in terms of principle of modernisation or
structural transformation of agriculture to industry. The impetus matches with the local idea
of industrialisation and the classical political economic strand of modernisation by W.
Arthur Lewis, Harvard economist Hollis B. Chenery and his colleagues;
(b) Next the studied phenomenon of industrialisation is further compatible with the political
economic critique of neoliberalism of geographer-anthropologist David Harvey by means of
his concept of “accumulation by dispossession” (ABD)
(c) Finally, in order to relate the responses of the farmers to the said dispossession and
resistance to the economic order of the neoliberal market the concept of “double movement”
of economic historian Karl Polanyi is also examined along with the similar idea of David
Basic Model of Structural Transformation
One of the best-known early theoretical models of development that focused on the
structural transformation of a primarily subsistence economy was that formulated by Nobel
23 | P a g e
laureate W. Arthur Lewis in the mid-1950s and later modified, formalized, and extended by
John Fei and Gustav Ranis. The Lewis two-sector model became the general theory of the
development process in surplus-labour Third World nations during most of the 1960s and
early 1970s. It still has many adherents today, especially among American development
In the Lewis model, the underdeveloped economy consists of two sectors: a
traditional, overpopulated rural subsistence sector characterized by zero marginal la bor
productivity—a situation that permits Lewis to classify this as surplus labour in the sense
that it can be withdrawn from the agricultural sector without any loss of output—and a
high-productivity modern urban industrial sector into which labour from the subsistence
sector is gradually transferred. The primary focus of the model is on both the process of
labour transfer and the growth of output and employment in the modern sector. Both labour
transfer and modern-sector employment growth are brought about by output expansion in
that sector. The speed with which this expansion occurs is determined by the rate of
industrial investment and capital accumulation in the modern sector. Such investment is
made possible by the excess of modern-sector profits over wages on the assumption that
capitalists reinvest all their profits. Finally, the level of wages in the urban industrial sector
is assumed to be constant and determined as a given premium over a fixed average
subsistence level of wages in the traditional agricultural sector. (Lewis assumed that urban
wages would have to be at least 30% higher than average rural income to induce workers to
migrate from their home areas.) At the constant urban wage, the supply curve of rural
labour to the modern sector is considered to be perfectly elastic.
The best-known model of structural change is the one based largely on the empirical
work of the late Harvard economist Hollis B. Chenery and his colleagues, who examined
patterns of development for numerous developing countries during the postwar period.
Their empirical studies, both cross-sectional (among countries at a given point in time) and
time-series (over long periods of time), of countries at different levels of per capita income
led to the identification of several characteristic features of the development process. These
included the shift from agricultural to industrial production, the steady accumulation of
physical and human capital, the change in consumer demands from emphasis on food and
basic necessities to desires for diverse manufactured goods and services, the growth of cities
24 | P a g e
and urban industries as people migrate from farms and small towns, and the decline in
family size and overall population growth as children lose their economic value and parents
substitute child quality (education) for quantity, with population growth first increasing,
then decreasing in the process of development. Proponents of this school often call for
development specialists to “let the facts speak for themselves,” rather than get bogged down
in the arcane of theories such as the stages of growth. This is a valuable counterbalance to
empty theorizing, but it also has its own limits.
The structural changes that we have described are the “average” patterns of
development Chenery and colleagues observed among countries in time-series and crosssectional analyses. The major hypothesis of the structural-change model is that development
is an identifiable process of growth and change whose main features are similar in all
countries. However, as mentioned earlier, the model does recognize that differences can
arise among countries in the pace and pattern of development, depending on their particular
set of circumstances.
Factors influencing the development process include a country’s resource
endowment and size, its government’s policies and objectives, the availability of external
capital and technology, and the international trade environment. Empirical studies on the
process of structural change lead to the conclusion that the pace and pattern of development
can vary according to both domestic and international factors, many of which lie beyond the
control of an individual developing nation. Yet despite this variation, structural-change
economists argue that one can identify certain patterns occurring in almost all countries
during the development process. And these patterns, they argue, may be affected by the
choice of development policies pursued by governments as well as the international trade
and foreign-assistance policies of developed nations. Hence structural-change analysts are
basically optimistic that the “correct” mix of economic policies will generate beneficial
patterns of self-sustaining growth.
Present Failure of Structural Change Development Theory
First, the model implicitly assumes that the rate of labour transfer and employment creation
in the modern sector is proportional to the rate of modern-sector capital accumulation. The
25 | P a g e
faster the rate of capital accumulation, the higher the growth rate of the modern sector and
the faster the rate of new job creation. But what if capitalist profits are reinvested in more
sophisticated labour-saving capital equipment rather than just duplicating the existing
capital as is implicitly assumed in the Lewis model? In fact this is little left to oppose this
The second questionable assumption of the Lewis model is the notion that surplus
labour exists in rural areas while there is full employment in the urban areas.
contemporary research indicates that there is little general surplus labour in rural locations.
True, there are both seasonal and geographic exceptions to this rule (e.g., parts of China and
the Asian subcontinent, some Carribean islands, and isolated regions of Latin America
where land ownership is very unequal), but by and large, development economists today
agree that Lewis’s assumption of rural surplus labour is generally not valid.
The third unreal assumption is the notion of a competitive modern-sector labour
market that guarantees the continued existence of constant real urban wages up to the point
where the supply of rural surplus labour is exhausted. Prior to the 1980s, a striking feature of
urban labour markets and wage determination in almost all developing countries was the
tendency for these wages to rise substantially over time, both in absolute terms and relative
to average rural incomes, even in the presence of rising levels of open modern-sector
unemployment and low or zero marginal productivity in agriculture. Institutional factors
such as union bargaining power, civil service wage scales, and multinational corporations’
hiring practices tend to negate competitive forces in LDC modern-sector labour markets.
We conclude, therefore, that when one takes into account the laboursaving bias of
most modern technological transfer, the existence of substantial capital flight, the
widespread nonexistence of rural surplus labour, the growing prevalence of urban surplus
labour, and the tendency for modern-sector wages to rise rapidly even where substantial
open unemployment exists, the Lewis two-sector model—though extremely valuable as an
early conceptual portrayal of the development process of sectoral interaction and structural
change—requires considerable modification in assumptions and analysis to fit the reality of
contemporary developing nations.
26 | P a g e
Turning to Neoliberalism and Indian Practices of Development
In the absence of real practice of development by structural dual-sector transformation we
first focus on what happened in India in the name of development practices. It is commonly
accepted that India has since the 1980s pursued a pro-business growth strategy (Kohli, 2009)
and a piecemeal process of liberalisation which, however ‘half-hearted’ at first (Harriss,
1987), entailed the gradual dismantling of the Nehru–Mahalanobis strategy of development
that had marked the first few decades of post-independence Indian economic growth. The
Nehru–Mahalanobis development model, in many respects rooted in the nationalist struggle
for independence, aimed inter alia at creating self-sufficiency and an economy free from
external and metropolitan domination, and in this venture planning became the
handmaiden of government. The Indian state actively intervened in the planning framework
by setting up a planning commission that determined national development interests,
ostensibly in relatively splendid isolation from the partisan squabbles and conflicts of
politics (Chatterjee, 1993: 202). The state also assumed a central role in the supply side of the
economy by actively pursuing a strategy of rapid import-substitution industrialisation that
focused on self-sufficiency and the building up of state-owned industries producing capital
goods; and by passing laws such as the Industries (Development and Regulation) Act in
1951 which prohibited the setting up of new units, or the substantial expansion of existing
ones, without a license from the state1. In crucial spheres, the state occupied the
commanding heights of the Indian economy. While this development pattern was executed
with full force only between 1956 and 1965 it can be considered to have lasted in its broader
dimensions, at times in intensified form and at others in attenuated form, until 1991 (Nayar,
In retrospect the result of the Nehruvian model was a mixed economy with a mixed
record (Ghosh, 1999: 166) that included both successes and failures. However, as the state in
India oftentimes took on the form of a regulatory state and not a developmental state
(Corbridge and Harriss, 2000: 103), the state-led model came under increasing pressure in
the 1980s. On the one hand popular movements against state-led development induced
displacement – most notably the Narmada Bachao Andolan’s struggle against the building
Other important acts introduced to the same effect were the Monopoly and Restrictive Trade Practices Act, and the
Foreign Exchange Regulation Act.
27 | P a g e
of large dams in North India – heralded the coming of a new zeitgeist that brought an
increased awareness about environmental and human rights issues to bear on development
related questions (Aandahl, 2009); while on the other neo-liberal critics such as Jagdish
Bhagwati (in Corbridge and Harriss, 2000: 102) began arguing that Indian planning as we
knew it was bound to promote an economic system that was not only over-licensed and
bureaucratised, but also inefficient and corrupt. As is well known, India’s fiscal crisis in 1991
marked an important point of transition, as the liberalisation of the Indian economy
gathered speed in the wake of the implementation of a package of structural and economic
reforms, which meant that the Indian state had to redefine its role in the development
process.2 Post-1991 the Indian state adopted a new and more pro-business model of
development (Kohli, 2009) and dismantled much of its industrial licensing system. It
allowed private sector companies to trade in industries that had once been arrogated to
state-owned enterprises, and offered tax concessions, and there is little doubt that the broad
thrust of the reforms has been to increase the powers of private capital. Moreover, there is
now a virtual consensus among all major political parties about the priorities of rapid
economic growth led by private investment, both domestic and foreign (Chatterjee, 2008:
57). As a corollary, more and more activities have been brought under the purview of
‘development’, including the acquisition and allocation of land by governments to profitmaking private companies (Reddy and Reddy, 2007: 3235) and the setting up of special
economic zones. Proponents of the transition to a new ‘India model’ ascribe its apparent
economic success to the unshackling of the Indian people from the confines of a mixed
economy, one that combined the worst features of capitalism and socialism (Das, 2006). They
point to India’s impressive rates of economic growth post-1991, which made India one of the
world’s best performing economies in recent years. Critics, on the other hand, point out that
while it cannot be denied that significant economic growth has taken place, it has done so to
the detriment of the poor. The policy of prioritising rapid growth led by private capital,
critics argue, involves an illicit collusion between big capital and the state, where the latter
facilitates the penetration of the former by dispossessing and displacing subaltern groups.
To such critics – some of whom became active in the Singur movement – the land acquisition
There exists a vast body of literature debating whether the 1991 economic reforms proceeded gradually or
erratically; and whether they were a necessary and inevitable step or implemented by stealth by or on behalf of social
elites. For an overview, see Corbridge and Harriss (2000: 143–172).
28 | P a g e
in Singur was thus symptomatic of the new forms of accumulation by dispossession
inherent in neoliberal forms of development (see e.g. Da Costa, 2007), carried out through
brute state power and oppression. Accordingly, to some the Singur protests became
symbolic of a new wave of emergent grassroots resistance to neo-liberal development and
the general ills of global capitalism.
“Neoliberalism” is a revival of “liberalism”. This definition suggests that liberalism, as a
political ideology, has been absent from political discussions and policy-making for a period
of time, only to emerge in more recent times in a reincarnated form. It suggests, in other
words, that liberalism has undergone a process of initial growth, intermediary decline, and
finally a recent rejuvenation. Alternatively, neoliberalism might be perceived of as a distinct
ideology, descending from, but not identical to liberalism “proper”. Under this
interpretation, neoliberalism would share some historical roots and some of the basic
vocabulary with liberalism in general.
The concept of neoliberalism suggests a particular account of the development of liberal
thought. It suggests that liberalism was at one point in time an influential political ideology,
but that it at some point lost some of its significance, only to revive itself in more recent
times in a new form. As it turns out, however, liberalism has dominated normative political
thought as well as practical politics in the West for the past sixty years, up to the point in
which it has become a shared inheritance among political theorists, professional politicians,
and nearly all significant political movements in its native countries. This is attested by the
fact that hardly anyone speaks out against freedom or democracy anymore, which are the
primary values of liberalism.
Neoliberalism could therefore scarcely be understood as the recovery of a lost
tradition of liberal, political thought. It should, in our view, instead be seen as an ideology
different from, and often opposed to, what is more commonly described as “liberalism”.
29 | P a g e
The word “liberal” took on a specifically political meaning with the establishment of
liberal parliamentary caucuses in Sweden and Spain, and later on throughout Europe, in the
first decades of the nineteenth century (Gray 1995). When these embryonic political parties
coined the term “liberal”, they wanted to signal their favourable assessment of the emerging
democratic systems in Britain and especially the United States, as opposed to their
conservative opponents, who wanted to return to pre-revolutionary forms of government
(cf. Sartori 1987:367f).
Partly because of its relatively long history, the term “liberalism” has become a
rather nebulous concept, and usage has tended vary quite considerably over time, and in
accordance with varying regional experiences. The opening sentences of one entry in a
reference book should suffice to describe the lexicographer’s headache:
“Anyone trying to give a brief account of liberalism is immediately faced with an
embarrassing question: are we dealing with liberalism or liberalisms? It is easy to list
famous liberals; it is harder to say what they have in common. John Locke, Adam
Smith, Montesquieu, Thomas Jefferson, John Stuart Mill, Lord Acton, T. H. Green,
John Dewey and contemporaries such as Isaiah Berlin and John Rawls are certainly
liberals – but they do not agree about the boundaries of toleration, the legitimacy of
the welfare state, and the virtues of democracy, to take three rather central political
issues” (Ryan 1993:291)
One could more easily identify, however, some of the common varieties of liberalism and
liberal thought. One frequently encountered distinction goes between “classical” and
“modern” types of liberalism (Ryan 1993:293-296). Classical liberalism is, under Ryan’s
understanding, associated with earlier liberals such as the already mentioned John Locke
and Adam Smith. In addition, he names Alexis de Tocqueville from the nineteenth century,
and Friedrich von Hayek from the twentieth, as belonging to the tradition of classical
Classical liberalism is often associated with the belief that the state ought to be
minimal, which means that practically everything except armed forces, law enforcement and
other “non-excludable goods” ought to be left to the free dealings of its citizens, and the
organisations they freely choose to establish and take part in. This kind of state is sometimes
described as a “night-watchman state”, as the sole purpose of the minimal state is to uphold
the most fundamental aspects of public order. Some of these authors, especially John Locke
([1689/90] 1823), even consider the state to be a freely established association between
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individuals, where its members have a justified cause for rebellion if the state seizes more
power than what has been originally ceded to it by its citizens. Classical liberalism has thus
much common ground with what we described above as “economic liberalism”. And it is
often the case that classical liberals are, with their tendency to favour laissez-faire economic
policies, portrayed as leading proponents of “neoliberalism”.
Modern liberalism is, on the other hand, characterised by a greater willingness to let
the state become an active participant in the economy. This has often issued in a pronounced
tendency to regulate the marketplace, and to have the state supply essential goods and
services to everyone. Modern liberalism is therefore, for all intents and purposes, a profound
revision of liberalism, especially of the economic policies traditionally associated with it.
Whereas “classical” or “economic” liberals favour laissez-faire (let go or free market)
economic policies because it is thought that they lead to more freedom and real democracy,
modern liberals tend to claim that this analysis is inadequate and misleading, and that the
state must play a significant role in the economy, if the most basic liberal goals and purposes
are to be made into reality. Such “modern” views could be associated with nineteenthcentury theorists such as Benjamin Constant and John Stuart Mill. More recently, John
Dewey, William Beveridge, and John Rawls have articulated similar ideas. Modern
liberalism could generally be thought of as being situated politically to the left of classical
liberalism, because of its willingness to employ the state as an instrument to redistribute
wealth and power – in order to create a society deemed to be more decent or equitable (cf.
Beveridge 1944; 1945; Rawls 1993).
The Critical Reader is in many ways a typical representative of a recent wave of
“critical literature” whose main goal it is to denounce a powerful tendency which goes
under the name of “neoliberalism” (cf. e.g. Blomgren 1997; Bourdieu 1998; 1998a; 2001;
Giddens 1998; Chomsky 1999; Campbell and Pedersen 2001; Touraine 2001; Marsdal and
Wold 2004; Rapley 2004; Harvey 2005; Hagen 2006; Plehwe et al. 2006). Several of these
works accord neoliberalism an overwhelming significance, while they at the same time seem
quite happy to leave the concept of “neoliberalism” completely undefined, claiming, along
with Saad-Filho and Johnston, that it defies definition. One might therefore easily begin to
suspect that the concept has become, in some quarters at least, a generic term of deprecation
describing almost any economic and political development deemed to be undesirable.
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Neoliberalism: A Conceptual History
The first book-length work we have been able to discover, employing the term
“neoliberalism” in its title, is Jacques Cros’ doctoral thesis, (Cros 1950). To Cros,
neoliberalism is the political ideology which resulted from a few efforts at reinvigorating
classical liberalism in the period immediately before and during World War II, by political
theorists such as Wilhelm Röpke (1944; 1945) and Friedrich von Hayek (1944; Hayek et al.
1935). Cros” main argument is, basically, that these “neoliberals” have sought to redefine
liberalism by reverting to a more right-wing or laissez-faire stance on economic policy
issues, compared to the modern, egalitarian liberalism of Beveridge and Keynes. Cros
generally applaud these “neoliberals” for speaking out against totalitarianism at a time
when only few people did so, especially among intellectuals. He remains sceptical, however,
to their central thesis, common to most classical liberals, that individual liberty depends on
there being a free-market economy, where the state has voluntarily given up its ability to
control the economy for the good of society as a whole, or the interests of its own citizens.
Cros and Nawroth’s concept of neoliberalism was slowly and gradually exported to
the rest of the world, where it during the 1990”s gained the prevalence it now has. Under
ver Eecke”s understanding, neoliberalism is not a description of any kind of recent
contributions to liberal theory, but rather a concept reserved for a particular kind of
liberalism, which is marked by a radical commitment to laissez-faire economic policies.
Among the proponents of such policies one finds some of the more uncompromising
classical liberals such as Mises and Hayek, monetarists and other economists bent on
establishing and preserving what they perceive of as “free markets” such as Friedman, and
finally also those libertarians whose much-repeated insistence on individual liberty issues in
a demand for a minimal or practically non-existent state, like Nozick and Rothbard.
In light of the body of literature partially presented above, as well as the other parts of this
present study, we therefore propose a definition which directly builds on the more moderate
voices of the “critical literature”, primarily Blomgren and Harvey. We believe, however, that
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our proposed definition is more to the point, and better able to function within the
framework of a more disinterested analysis of the phenomenon of neoliberalism, and the
conditions for politics in the contemporary world:
Neoliberalism is, as we see it, a loosely demarcated set of political beliefs which most
prominently and prototypically include the conviction that the only legitimate purpose of
the state is to safeguard individual, especially commercial, liberty, as well as strong private
property rights (cf. especially Mises 1962; Nozick 1974; Hayek 1979). This conviction usually
issues, in turn, in a belief that the state ought to be minimal or at least drastically reduced in
strength and size, and that any transgression by the state beyond its sole legitimate purpose
is unacceptable (ibid.). These beliefs could apply to the international level as well, where a
system of free markets and free trade ought to be implemented as well; the only acceptable
reason for regulating international trade is to safeguard the same kind of commercial liberty
and the same kinds of strong property rights which ought to be realised on a national level
(Norberg 2001; Friedman 2006).
Neoliberalism generally also includes the belief that freely adopted market
mechanisms is the optimal way of organising all exchanges of goods and services (Friedman
1962; 1980; Norberg 2001). Free markets and free trade will, it is believed, set free the
creative potential and the entrepreneurial spirit which is built into the spontaneous order of
any human society, and thereby lead to more individual liberty and well-being, and a more
efficient allocation of resources (Hayek 1973; Rothbard [1962/1970] 2004).
Neoliberalism could also include a perspective on moral virtue: the good and
virtuous person is one who is able to access the relevant markets and function as a
competent actor in these markets. He or she is willing to accept the risks associated with
participating in free markets, and to adapt to rapid changes arising from such participation
(Friedman 1980). Individuals are also seen as being solely responsible for the consequences
of the choices and decisions they freely make: instances of inequality and glaring social
injustice are morally acceptable, at least to the degree in which they could be seen as the
result of freely made decisions (Nozick 1974; Hayek 1976). If a person demands that the state
should regulate the market or make reparations to the unfortunate who has been caught at
the losing end of a freely initiated market transaction, this is viewed as an indication that the
person in question is morally depraved and underdeveloped, and scarcely different from a
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proponent of a totalitarian state (Mises 1962). Thus understood and defined, neoliberalism
becomes a loose set of ideas of how the relationship between the state and its external
environment ought to be organised, and not a complete political philosophy or ideology
(Blomgren 1997; Malnes 1998). In fact, it is not understood as a theory about how political
processes ought to be organised at all.
Neoliberalism is for instance silent on the issue of whether or not there ought to
be democracy and free exchanges of political ideas. This means, as Harvey (2005)
indicates, that policies inspired by neoliberalism could be implemented under the
auspices of autocrats as well as within liberal democracies. In fact, neoliberals merely
claim, in effect, that as much as possible ought to be left to the market or other processes
which individuals freely choose to take part in, and consequently that as little as
possible ought to be subjected to genuinely political processes. Proponents of
neoliberalism are therefore often in the “critical literature” portrayed as sceptics of
democracy: if the democratic process slows down neoliberal reforms, or threatens
individual and commercial liberty, which it sometimes does, then democracy ought to
be sidestepped and replaced by the rule of experts or legal instruments designed for that
purpose. The practical implementation of neoliberal policies will, therefore, lead to a
relocation of power from political to economic processes, from the state to markets and
individuals, and finally from the legislature and executives authorities to the judiciary
(cf. Østerud et al. 2003; Trollstøl and Stensrud 2005; Tranøy 2006).
Why the Neoliberal Turn?
The restructuring of state forms and of international relations after the Second World War
was designed to prevent a return to the catastrophic conditions that had so threatened the
capitalist order in the great slump of the 1930s. It was also supposed to prevent the reemergence of inter-state geopolitical rivalries that had led to the war. To ensure domestic
peace and tranquillity, some sort of class compromise between capital and labour had to be
constructed. The thinking at the time is perhaps best represented by an influential text by
two eminent social scientists, Robert Dahl and Charles Lindblom, published in 1953. Both
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capitalism and communism in their raw forms had failed, they argued. The only way ahead
was to construct the right blend of state, market, and democratic institutions to guarantee
peace, inclusion, well-being, and stability. Internationally, a new world order was
constructed through the Bretton Woods agreements, and various institutions, such as the
United Nations, the World Bank, the IMF, and the Bank of International Settlements in Basle,
were set up to help stabilize international relations. Free trade in goods was encouraged
under a system of fixed exchange rates anchored by the US dollar’s convertibility into gold
at a fixed price. Fixed exchange rates were incompatible with free flows of capital that had to
be controlled, but the US had to allow the free flow of the dollar beyond its borders if the
dollar was to function as the global reserve currency. This system existed under the
umbrella protection of US military power. Only the Soviet Union and the Cold War placed
limits on its global reach.
A variety of social democratic, Christian democratic and dirigiste (directed by a
central authority) states emerged in Europe after the Second World War. The US itself
turned towards a liberal democratic state form, and Japan, under the close supervision of the
US, built a nominally democratic but in practice highly bureaucratic state apparatus
empowered to oversee the reconstruction of that country. What all of these various state
forms had in common was an acceptance that the state should focus on full employment,
economic growth, and the welfare of its citizens, and that state power should be freely
deployed, alongside of or, if necessary, intervening in or even substituting for market
processes to achieve these ends. Fiscal and monetary policies usually dubbed ‘Keynesian’
were widely deployed to dampen business cycles and to ensure reasonably full
employment. A ‘class compromise’ between capital and labour was generally advocated as
the key guarantor of domestic peace and tranquillity. States actively intervened in industrial
policy and moved to set standards for the social wage by constructing a variety of welfare
systems (health care, education, and the like). This form of political-economic organization
is now usually referred to as ‘embedded liberalism’ to signal how market processes and
entrepreneurial and corporate activities were surrounded by a web of social and political
constraints and a regulatory environment that sometimes restrained but in other instances
led the way in economic and industrial strategy. State-led planning and in some instances
state ownership of key sectors (coal, steel, automobiles) were not uncommon (for example in
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Britain, France, and Italy). The neoliberal project is to disembed capital from these
Embedded liberalism delivered high rates of economic growth in the advanced
capitalist countries during the 1950s and 1960s. In part this depended on the largesse of the
US in being prepared to run deficits with the rest of the world and to absorb any excess
product within its borders. This system conferred benefits such as expanding export markets
(most obviously for Japan but also unevenly across South America and to some other
countries of South-East Asia), but attempts to export ‘development’ to much of the rest of
the world largely stalled. For much of the Third World, particularly Africa, embedded
liberalism remained a pipe dream. The subsequent drive towards neoliberalization after
1980 entailed little material change in their impoverished condition. In the advanced
capitalist countries, redistributive politics (including some degree of political integration of
working-class trade union power and support for collective bargaining), controls over the
free mobility of capital (some degree of financial repression through capital controls in
particular), expanded public expenditures and welfare state-building, active state
interventions in the economy, and some degree of planning of development went hand in
hand with relatively high rates of growth. The business cycle was successfully controlled
through the application of Keynesian fiscal and monetary policies. A social and moral
economy (sometimes supported by a strong sense of national identity) was fostered through
the activities of an interventionist state. The state in effect became a force field that
internalized class relations. Working-class institutions such as labour unions and political
parties of the left had a very real influence within the state apparatus.
By the end of the 1960s embedded liberalism began to break down, both
internationally and within domestic economies. Signs of a serious crisis of capital
accumulation were everywhere apparent. Unemployment and inflation were both surging
everywhere, ushering in a global phase of ‘stagflation’ that lasted throughout much of the
1970s. Fiscal crises of various states (Britain, for example, had to be bailed out by the IMF in
1975–6) resulted as tax revenues plunged and social expenditures soared. Keynesian policies
were no longer working. Even before the Arab-Israeli War and the OPEC oil embargo of
1973, the Bretton Woods system of fixed exchange rates backed by gold reserves had fallen
into disarray. The porosity of state boundaries with respect to capital flows put stress on the
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system of fixed exchange rates. US dollars had flooded the world and escaped US controls
by being deposited in European banks. Fixed exchange rates were therefore abandoned in
1971. Gold could no longer function as the metallic base of international money; exchange
rates were allowed to float, and attempts to control the float were soon abandoned. The
embedded liberalism that had delivered high rates of growth to at least the advanced
capitalist countries after 1945 was clearly exhausted and was no longer working. Some
alternative was called for if the crisis was to be overcome.
One answer was to deepen state control and regulation of the economy through
corporatist strategies (including, if necessary, curbing the aspirations of labour and popular
movements through austerity measures, incomes policies, and even wage and price
controls). This answer was advanced by socialist and communist parties in Europe, with
hopes pinned on innovative experiments in governance in places such as communistcontrolled ‘Red Bologna’ in Italy, on the revolutionary transformation of Portugal in the
wake of the collapse of fascism, on the turn towards a more open market socialism and ideas
of ‘Eurocommunism’, particularly in Italy (under the leadership of Berlinguer) and in Spain
(under the influence of Carrillo), or on the expansion of the strong social democratic welfare
state tradition in Scandinavia. The left assembled considerable popular power behind such
programmes, coming close to power in Italy and actually acquiring state power in Portugal,
France, Spain, and Britain, while retaining power in Scandinavia. Even in the United States,
a Congress controlled by the Democratic Party legislated a huge wave of regulatory reform
in the early 1970s (signed into law by Richard Nixon, a Republican president, who in the
process even went so far as to remark that ‘we are all Keynesians now’), governing
everything from environmental protection to occupational safety and health, civil rights, and
consumer protection. But the left failed to go much beyond traditional social democratic and
corporatist solutions and these had by the mid-1970s proven inconsistent with the
requirements of capital accumulation. The effect was to polarize debate between those
ranged behind social democracy and central planning on the one hand (who, when in
power, as in the case of the British Labour Party, often ended up trying to curb, usually for
pragmatic reasons, the aspirations of their own constituencies), and the interests of all those
concerned with liberating corporate and business power and re-establishing market
freedoms on the other. By the mid-1970s, the interests of the latter group came to the fore.
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But how were the conditions for the resumption of active capital accumulation to be
restored? How and why neoliberalism emerged victorious as the single answer to this
question is the crux of the problem we have to solve. In retrospect it may seem as if the
answer was both inevitable and obvious, but at the time, I think it is fair to say, no one really
knew or understood with any certainty what kind of answer would work and how. The
capitalist world stumbled towards neoliberalization as the answer through a series of
gyrations and chaotic experiments that really only converged as a new orthodoxy with the
articulation of what became known as the ‘Washington Consensus3’ in the 1990s. By then,
both Clinton and Blair could easily have reversed Nixon’s earlier statement and simply said
‘We are all neoliberals now.’ The uneven geographical development of neoliberalism, its
frequently partial and lop-sided application from one state and social formation to another,
testifies to the tentativeness of neoliberal solutions and the complex ways in which political
forces, historical traditions, and existing institutional arrangements all shaped why and how
the process of neoliberalization actually occurred.
Introducing “Double Movement” of Karl Polanyi in Neoliberal Era
Through an examination of India’s National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), the
largest social movement alliance resisting neoliberal globalization in India, this paper
This is the set of 10 policies that the US government and the international financial institutions based in the
US capital believed were necessary elements of “first stage policy reform” that all countries should adopt to
increase economic growth. At its heart is an emphasis on the importance of macroeconomic stability and
integration into the international economy - in other words a neo-liberal view of globalization. The framework
Fiscal discipline - strict criteria for limiting budget deficits
Public expenditure priorities - moving them away from subsidies and administration towards
previously neglected fields with high economic returns
Tax reform - broadening the tax base and cutting marginal tax rates
Financial liberalization - interest rates should ideally be market-determined
Exchange rates - should be managed to induce rapid growth in non-traditional exports
Increasing foreign direct investment (FDI) - by reducing barriers
Privatization - state enterprises should be privatized
Deregulation - abolition of regulations that impede the entry of new firms or restrict competition
(except in the areas of safety, environment and finance)
Secure intellectual property rights (IPR) - without excessive costs and available to the informal sector
Reduced role for the state.
These ideas proved very controversial, both inside and outside the Bretton Woods Institutions. However, they
were implemented through conditionality under International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank guidance.
They are now being replaced by a post-Washington consensus.
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attempts to theoretically reconstruct Polanyi’s theory of “the double movement” for the
neoliberal age. Polanyi famously observed that early twentieth century liberal attempts to
“dis-embed” the market from social controls created unprecedented social dislocations,
leading to widespread protective “countermovements” to “re-embed” the market within
In recent years, social movements across the world have mounted increasingly
coordinated resistance to the institutions of neoliberal capitalism. The convergence of a
diverse range of Indian social movements under the NAPM banner is part of this global
upsurge. Many of these “new social movements” (Omvedt 1993; Buechler 1995; Buechler
2000), far from emerging from the traditional Marxist proletariat, represent heterogeneous
social and economic groups. They share not equivalent relationships to the means of
production but variegated negative experiences with the manifold effects of market
liberalization. In this sense, these new anti-systemic movements are closer to Polanyi’s
(2001) concept of a protective “counter-movement” against the “satanic mill” of the selfregulating market than to the Marxist concept of a revolutionary class.
Polanyi argued that the intensified commodification of the “fictitious commodities”
land, labour, and money in the attempt to create a self-regulating market produced
unprecedented social strains. Because neither land nor labour is a real commodity – labour is
nothing less than living human beings and land “an element of nature inextricably
interwoven with man’s institutions” (187) – treating them as such is bound to wreak social
havoc and foment resistance. Commodifying money, or in other words, creating speculative
global currency markets, leads to financial instability and crisis. Observing the late 19th and
early 20th century retractions from “free market” policies, Polanyi posited the concept of the
“double movement” whereby efforts to “unnaturally” disembed markets from social
relations inevitably lead to large scale societal movements for social protection With the
New Deal era in the United States, the widespread adoption of Keynesian policies, and a
world-wide re-extension of political constraints on the market—which John Ruggie (1982)
has called the era of “embedded liberalism”—Polanyi, writing towards the end of World
War II, thought that the market had been re-embedded for good.
Polanyi did not anticipate the possibility that a neoliberal counterrevolution would
once again dis-embed markets from social and political controls. Beginning in the 1970s and
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reaching maturity with the Reagan and Thatcherite policies of the 1980s, neoliberalism
became the hegemonic model for structuring the relationship between states and markets.
This model principally entailed transferring domains of social life from the former to the
latter: deregulation of markets; privatization of public firms, natural resources, and public
utilities; and the withdrawal of the state from many areas of social provision (Harvey 2005).
Overall, neoliberalism called for “liberating” markets from state control and placing
increasing realms of human action as well as natural resources under the direction of
markets. With the encouragement and coercion of international financial institutions such as
the IMF and World Bank, neoliberal restructuring spread rapidly through the global South
in the 1990s. This “rebirth of the liberal creed” (Fourcade-Gourinchas and Babb 2002) and
the accompanying emergence of social movements to resist it has led several scholars to
resurrect Polanyi to understand the neoliberal era (e.g., Watts 2000; Fourcade-Gourinchas
and Babb 2002; Hart 2002; Arrighi and Silver 2003; Block 2003; Burawoy 2003).
application of Polanyian concepts to the neoliberal era, though so far insufficiently
developed, promises to be fruitful. Above all, Polanyi’s concept of the “counter-movement”
for social protection provides an accurate and encompassing description of much current
resistance to neoliberalism. Polanyi’s focus on exchange rather than production highlights
the variegated ways in which different social groups experience marketization, rather than
confining attention to groups (i.e., the urban proletariat) that share a homologous
relationship to the means of production (Burawoy 2003: 214). The intensified
commodification of labor, capital, and especially land that neoliberal reforms have
engineered has generated at least as much social and economic dislocation among other
social sectors as it has among urban workers. Peasants, petty producers, fisherpeople,
indigenous communities, and slum dwellers have seen their lives and livelihoods uprooted
by the manifestations of “dis-embedding” markets from social relations. Agricultural
laborers mobilize against the influx of cheap imported food under free-trade agreements,
while peasants, indigenous communities, and fisherpeople fight displacement and
disruption of livelihoods from the expropriation and insertion of common pool resources
into the export economy. Scores of movements resist privatization of water and electric
utilities. Environmental movements resist the ecological degradation of industrialization,
urbanization, and the intensified exploitation of nature. There are widespread resistances to
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the dismantling of the welfare state (for example, the “IMF riots” against structural
adjustment) and retrenchments in public goods. These are the types of movements that fill
the ranks of NAPM. Polanyi also perceptively recognized that a counter-movement is not
simply a response to economic changes, but to the social dislocations they create. As Polanyi
asserts of an earlier period of market expansion, “The Industrial Revolution was causing a
social dislocation of stupendous proportions, and the problem of poverty was merely the
economic aspect of this event” (2001 : 145). Similarly, many of the movements
currently contesting neoliberal reforms object not only to their economic implications, but
also to their disruption of established social, cultural, and ecological relationships.
Finally, the Polanyian concept of “re-embedding” the market provides a useful way
of thinking about the alternatives these movements propose. For Polanyi, a countermovement is directed towards a broad “re-embedding” of the market within social relations.
While the concept is undoubtedly vague in Polanyi and can be taken in more or less radical
ways, it is a fairly accurate theoretical umbrella for understanding what current movements
are working towards. Most reject any singular or monolithic utopian alternative (such as
state socialism) and instead invoke a plurality of alternatives that respond to a multiplicity
of (often placed-based) visions. As it is showed with NAPM, one of the strongest threads
tying these movements together is a commitment to deepening democratic control over
markets, productive resources, and economic development more generally. In addition to
contentious politics, many of these movements actively engage in prefigurative construction
of alternative social and economic models, or “Real Utopias” (Wright forthcoming). The
World Social Forum slogan “Another World is Possible” reflects this pluralist approach to
alternatives. It implies a relatively coherent consensus in the rejection of the prevailing social
and political-economic order, but leaves open the question of what “another world” might
look like. In this conceptualization of building “another world,” there is a productive
dialectic between uniting against the common enemy and affirming plurality. One might say
that resisting the hegemonic logic of neoliberalism is a necessary precondition for the
diversity and radical democracy these movements are working for. This is quite similar to
Polanyi’s observation that a common effort at decommodification and social re-embedding
would give rise to a plurality of alternatives Polanyi’s analysis is manifested today in many
social movements such as those in NAPM who see neoliberalism as the most totalizing force
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shaping the world, thus making effective resistance a precondition for a diversity of
alternatives to emerge.
Nonetheless, while Polanyi’s theory of the “double-movement” is useful enough to
be worthy of theoretical reconstruction, it is also in need of significant amendments before it
can usefully illuminate the nature of contemporary countermovements. Perhaps where
Polanyi falls most glaringly short is in showing how a countermovement is organized and
constructed. Polanyi’s analysis of “The Great Transformation” is plagued by an overly
organic conception of society, which as Burawoy (2003)
notes, fails to appreciate the
Gramscian insight that civil society is both a site of capitalist hegemony as well as a potential
terrain of resistance. Challenging the “self-regulating” market will not be some spontaneous,
mechanical, and consensual reaction of “society” to the onslaught of the market, as Polanyi
maintains. Counter-hegemony must be organized in the “trenches” (Gramsci 1972). This is
related to another shortcoming of Polanyi: his indeterminacy about which class takes the
lead in social protection. At various times, Polanyi identifies the working class as the
vanguard of social protection, at other times the landed aristocracy (2001 : 139, 162).
Although he asserts that the “trading classes” “had no organ to sense the dangers” of the
self-regulating market and thus cannot be relied upon for the protection of society, he clearly
states that it is in their best interests to do so (2001 : 139). Moreover, elite-driven
legislation comprises a significant part of Polanyi’s description of the countermovement.
The important point, however, is that for Polanyi, whichever class takes the lead does so not
out of narrow self-interest, but out of the functional need of society to protect itself.
Polanyi’s organic conception of society appears naïve about class power and class interests.
This has to be understood in relation to a third ambiguity in Polanyi’s thesis: namely,
how radical is the counter-movement’s social re-embedding of the market? Does it involve
the transformation of class relations? What exactly does he mean by the decommodification
of land, labor, and capital? On the one hand, we have the New Deal side of Polanyi. This
version of embeddedness suggests protections for workers and the environment, regulation
of markets, and an overall macroeconomic vision akin to “embedded liberalism” (Ruggie
1982). However, there is also the Owenite moment in Polanyi that seems captivated by the
vision of a “cooperative commonwealth.” This suggests a more radical re-embedding and a
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transformation of property relations, not just through state action, but also by civil society
itself asserting control over the economy.
Whichever reading one takes of Polanyi, it seems clear (and here we need to bring
Marx back in) that the class positions of the major protagonists of the counter-movement
will largely shape the character of the re-embedding. The new social movements resisting
neo-liberal globalization, including the ones in NAPM, tend to be organized around more
radically socialist-anarchist visions than embedded liberalism (Omvedt 1993; Graeber 2002;
Mertes 2004). They are largely led by the economically marginalized classes and they seek
social and economic transformations that are in many ways incompatible with the interests
of economic elites, even if some of their demands (like capital controls and protection of the
environment) might serve long-term elite interests.
Accumulation by Dispossession
Rosa Luxemburg argues that capital accumulation has a dual character: One concerns the
commodity market and the place where surplus value is produced—the factory, the mine,
the agricultural estate. Regarded in this light accumulation is a purely economic process,
with its most important phase a transaction between the capitalist and the wage labourer. . .
. Here, in form at any rate, peace, property and equality prevail, and the keen dialectics of
scientific analysis were required to reveal how the right of ownership changes in the course
of accumulation into appropriation of other people’s property, how commodity exchange
turns into exploitation, and equality becomes class rule. The other aspect of the
accumulation of capital concerns the relations between capitalism and the non-capitalist
modes of production which start making their appearance on the international stage. Its
predominant methods are colonial policy, an international loan system—a policy of spheres
of interest—and war. Force, fraud, oppression, looting are openly displayed without any
attempt at concealment, and it requires an effort to discover within this tangle of political
violence and contests of power the stern laws of the economic process.
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Underconsumption or Overaccumulation?
Luxemburg rests her analysis upon a particular understanding of the crisis tendencies of
capitalism. The problem, she argues, is underconsumption, a general lack of sufficient
effective demand to soak up the growth in output that capitalism generates. This difficulty
arises because workers are exploited and by definition receive much less value to spend
than they produce, and capitalists are at least in part obliged to reinvest rather than to
consume. After due consideration of various ways in which the supposed gap between
supply and effective demand might be bridged, she concludes that trade with non-capitalist
social formations provides the only systematic way to stabilize the system. If those social
formations or territories are reluctant to trade then they must be compelled to do so by force
of arms (as happened with the opium wars in China). This is, in her view, the heart of what
imperialism is about.
The gap that Luxemburg thought she saw can easily be covered by reinvestment
which generates its own demand for capital goods and other inputs. And, as we have seen
in the case of the spatio-temporal fixes, the geographical expansion of capitalism which
underlies a lot of imperialist activity is very helpful to the stabilization of the system
precisely because it opens up demand for both investment goods and consumer goods
elsewhere. Imbalances can arise, of course, between sectors and regions, and business cycles
and localized recessions can result. But it is also possible to accumulate in the face of
stagnant effective demand if the costs of inputs (land, raw materials, intermediate inputs,
labour power) decline significantly. Access to cheaper inputs is, therefore, just as important
as access to widening markets in keeping profitable opportunities open. The implication is
that non-capitalist territories should be forced open not only to trade (which could be
helpful) but also to permit capital to invest in profitable ventures using cheaper labour
power, raw materials, low-cost land, and the like. The general thrust of any capitalistic logic
of power is not that territories should be held back from capitalist development, but that
they should be continuously opened up.
However, there is much that is interesting about Luxemburg’s formulation. To begin
with, the idea that capitalism must perpetually have something ‘outside of itself in order to
stabilize itself is worthy of scrutiny of an inner dialectic of capitalism forcing it to seek
solutions external to itself. Consider, for example, Marx’s argument concerning the creation
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of an industrial reserve army. Capital accumulation, in the absence of strong currents of
labour-saving technological change, requires an increase in the labour force. This can come
about in a number of ways. Increase of population is important (and most analysts
conveniently forget Marx’s own strictures on this point).
Capital can also raid ‘latent
reserves’ from a peasantry or, by extension, mobilize cheap labour from colonies and other
external settings. Failing this, capitalism can utilize its powers of technological change and
investment to induce unemployment (lay-offs) thus creating an industrial reserve army of
unemployed workers directly. This unemployment tends to exert a downward pressure on
wage rates and thereby opens up new opportunities for profitable deployment of capital.
Now in all of these instances capitalism does indeed require something ‘outside of
itself’ in order to accumulate, but in the last case it actually throws workers out of the system
at one point in time in order to have them to hand for purposes of accumulation at a later
point in time. Put in the language of contemporary postmodern political theory, we might
say that capitalism necessarily and always creates its own ‘other’. The idea that some sort of
‘outside’ is necessary for the stabilization of capitalism therefore has relevance.
capitalism can either make use of some pre-existing outside (non-capitalist social formations
or some sector within capitalism—such as education—that has not yet been proletarianized)
or it can actively manufacture it. Harvey (2003) proposes to take this ‘inside-outside’
dialectic seriously in what follows. Harvey examines how the ‘organic relation’ between
expanded reproduction on the one hand and the often violent processes of dispossession on
the other have shaped the historical geography of capitalism.
This scenario sounds all too familiar given the experience of the 1980s and 1990s. But
Arendt’s description of the bourgeois response is even more arresting. They realized, she
argues, ‘for the first time that the original sin of simple robbery, which centuries ago had
made possible “the original accumulation of capital” (Marx) and had started all further
accumulation, had eventually to be repeated. The processes that Marx, following Adam
Smith, referred to as ‘primitive’ or ‘original’ accumulation constitute, in Arendt’s view, an
important and continuing force in the historical geography of capital accumulation through
imperialism. As in the case of labour supply, capitalism always requires a fund of assets
outside of itself if it is to confront and circumvent pressures of overaccumulation. If those
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assets, such as empty land or new raw material sources, do not lie to hand, then capitalism
must somehow produce them.
A closer look at Marx’s description of primitive accumulation reveals a wide range of
processes. These include the commodification and privatization of land and the forceful
expulsion of peasant populations; the conversion of various forms of property rights
(common, collective, state, etc.) into exclusive private property rights; the suppression of
rights to the commons; the commodification of labour power and the suppression of
alternative (indigenous) forms of production and consumption; colonial, neo-colonial, and
imperial processes of appropriation of assets (including natural resources); the monetization
of exchange and taxation, particularly of land; the slave trade fund usury, the national debt,
and ultimately the credit system as radical means of primitive accumulation. The state, with
its monopoly of violence and definitions of legality, plays a crucial role in both backing and
promoting these processes.
All the features of primitive accumulation that Marx mentions have remained
powerfully present within capitalism’s historical geography up until now. Displacement of
peasant populations and the formation of a landless proletariat has accelerated in countries
such as Mexico and India in the last three decades, many formerly common property
resources, such as water, have been privatized (often at World Bank insistence) and brought
within the capitalist logic of accumulation, alternative (indigenous and even, in the case of
the United States, petty commodity) forms of production and consumption have been
suppressed. Nationalized industries have been privatized. Family farming has been taken
over by agribusiness. And slavery has not disappeared (particularly in the sex trade).
Critical engagement over the years with Marx’s account of primitive accumulation—which
in any case had the quality of a sketch rather than a systematic exploration—suggests some
lacunae that need to be remedied. The process of proletarianization, for example, entails a
mix of coercions and of appropriations of precapitalist skills, social relations, knowledge,
habits of mind, and beliefs on the part of those being proletarianized. Kinship structures,
familial and household arrangements, gender and authority relations (including those
exercised through religion and its institutions) all have their part to play. In some instances
the pre-existing structures have to be violently repressed as inconsistent with labour under
capitalism, but multiple accounts now exist to suggest that they are just as likely to be co46 | P a g e
opted in an attempt to forge some consensual as opposed to coercive basis for working-class
formation. Primitive accumulation, in short, entails appropriation and co-optation of preexisting cultural and social achievements as well as confrontation and supersession.
The result is often to leave a trace of pre-capitalist social relations in working-class
formation and to create distinctive geographical, historical, and anthropological
differentiations in how a working class is denned. No matter how universal the process of
proletarianization, the result is not the creation of a homogeneous proletariat.
Accumulation by dispossession became increasingly more salient after 1973, in part
as compensation for the chronic problems of overaccumulation arising within expanded
reproduction. The primary vehicle for this development was financialization and the
orchestration, largely at the behest of the United States, of an international financial system
that could, from time to time, visit anything from mild to savage bouts of devaluation and
accumulation by dispossession on certain sectors or even whole territories. But the opening
up of new territories to capitalist development and to capitalistic forms of market behaviour
also played a role, as did the primitive accumulations accomplished in those countries (such
as South Korea, Taiwan, and now, even more dramatically, China) that sought to insert
themselves into global capitalism as active players. For all of this to occur required not only
financialization and freer trade, but a radically different approach to how state power,
always a major player in accumulation by dispossession, should be deployed. The rise of
neo-liberal theory and its associated politics of privatization symbolized much of what this
shift was about.
Privatization: The Cutting Edge of Accumulation by Dispossession
Neo-liberalism as a political economic doctrine goes back to the late 1930s. Radically
opposed to communism, socialism, and all forms of active government intervention beyond
that required to secure private property arrangements, market institutions, and
entrepreneurial activity, it began as an isolated and largely ignored corpus of thought that
was actively shaped during the 1940s by thinkers such as von Hayek, Ludvig von Mises,
Milton Friedman, and, at least for a while, Karl Popper. It would, presciently predicted von
Hayek, take at least a generation for neoliberal views to become mainstream. Assembling
funds from sympathetic corporations and founding exclusive think-tanks, the movement
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produced a steady but ever-expanding stream of analyses, writings, polemics, and political
position statements during the 1960s and 1970s.
But it was still dismissed as largely
irrelevant and even scoffed at by the mainstream. It was only after the general crisis of overaccumulation became so apparent in the 1970s that the movement was taken seriously as an
alternative to Keynesian and other more state-centred frameworks for policy-making. And it
was Margaret Thatcher who, casting around for a better framework for attacking the
economic problems of her time, discovered the movement politically and turned to its thinktanks for inspiration and advice after her election in 1979. Together with Reagan, she
transformed the whole orientation of state activity away from the welfare state and towards
active support for the ‘supply-side’ conditions of capital accumulation. The IMF and the
World Bank changed their policy frameworks almost overnight, and within a few years neoliberal doctrine had made a very short and victorious march through the institutions to
dominate policy, first in the Anglo-American world but subsequently throughout much of
the rest of Europe and the world. Since privatization and liberalization of the market was
the mantra of the neo-liberal movement, the effect was to make a new round of enclosure of
the commons’ into an objective of state policies. Assets held by the state or in common were
released into the market where over-accumulating capital could invest in them, upgrade
them, and speculate in them. New terrains for profitable activity were opened up, and this
helped stave off the over-accumulation problem, at least for a while. Once in motion,
however, this movement created incredible pressures to find more and more arenas, either
at home or abroad, where privatization might be achieved. In Thatcher’s case, the large
stock of social housing was one of the first set of assets to be privatized. At first blush this
appeared as a gift to the lower classes, who could now convert from rental to ownership at a
relatively low cost, gain control over a valuable asset, and augment their wealth. But once
the transfer was accomplished housing speculation took over, particularly in prime central
locations, eventually bribing, cajoling, or forcing low-income populations out to the
periphery in cities like London, and turning erstwhile working-class housing estates into
centres of intense gentrification. The loss of affordable housing produced homelessness and
social anomie in many urban neighbourhoods.
Along with this has gone an extraordinary burst in information technologies. In 1970
or so investment in that field was on a par with the 25 per cent going into production and to
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physical infrastructures respectively, but, by 2000, IT accounted for around 45 per cent of all
investment, while the relative shares of investment in production and physical
infrastructures declined. During the 1990s this was thought to betoken the rise of a new
information economy. It in fact represented an unfortunate bias in the path of technological
change away from production and infrastructure formation into lines required by the
market-driven financialization that was the hallmark of neoliberalization. Information
technology is the privileged technology of neoliberalism. It is far more useful for speculative
activity and for maximizing the number of shortterm market contracts than for improving
production. Interestingly, the main arenas of production that gained were the emergent
cultural industries (films, videos, video games, music, advertising, art shows), which use IT
as a basis for innovation and the marketing of new products. The hype around these new
sectors diverted attention from the failure to invest in basic physical and social
infrastructures. Along with all of this went the hype about ‘globalization’ and all that it
supposedly stood for in terms of the construction of an entirely different and totally
integrated global economy. The main substantive achievement of neoliberalization,
however, has been to redistribute, rather than to generate, wealth and income.
By ‘accumulation by dispossession’ Harvey (2005) means the continuation and
proliferation of accumulation practices which Marx had treated of as ‘primitive’ or ‘original’
during the rise of capitalism. These include the commodification and privatization of land
and the forceful expulsion of peasant populations (compare the cases, described above, of
Mexico and of China, where 70 million peasants are thought to have been displaced in
recent times); conversion of various forms of property rights (common, collective, state, etc.)
into exclusive private property rights (most spectacularly represented by China);
suppression of rights to the commons; commodification of labour power and the
suppression of alternative (indigenous) forms of production and consumption; colonial,
neocolonial, and imperial processes of appropriation of assets (including natural resources);
monetization of exchange and taxation, particularly of land; the slave trade (which continues
particularly in the sex industry); and usury, the national debt and, most devastating of all,
the use of the credit system as a radical means of accumulation by dispossession. The state,
with its monopoly of violence and definitions of legality, plays a crucial role in both backing
and promoting these processes.
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Accumulation by dispossession comprises four main features:
1. Privatization and commodification. The corporatization, commodification, and privatization
of hitherto public assets have been a signal feature of the neoliberal project. Its primary
aim has been to open up new fields for capital accumulation in domains hitherto
regarded off-limits to the calculus of profitability. Public utilities of all kinds (water,
telecommunications, transportation), social welfare provision (social housing, education,
health care, pensions), public institutions (universities, research laboratories, prisons)
and even warfare (as illustrated by the ‘army’ of private contractors operating alongside
the armed forces in Iraq) have all been privatized to some degree throughout the
capitalist world and beyond (for example in China). The escalating depletion of the
global environmental commons (land, air, water) and proliferating habitat degradations
that preclude anything but capital-intensive modes of agricultural production have
likewise resulted from the wholesale commodification of nature in all its forms. The
rolling back of regulatory frameworks designed to protect labour and the environment
from degradation has entailed the loss of rights. The reversion of common property
rights won through years of hard class struggle (the right to a state pension, to welfare,
to national health care) into the private domain has been one of the most egregious of all
policies of dispossession, often procured against the broad political will of the
population. All of these processes amount to the transfer of assets from the public and
popular realms to the private and class-privileged domains4.
2. Financialization. The strong wave of financialization that set in after 1980 has been
marked by its speculative and predatory style. The total daily turnover of financial
transactions in international markets, which stood at $2.3 billion in 1983, had risen to
$130 billion by 2001. The $40 trillion annual turnover in 2001 compares to the estimated
$800 billion that would be required to support international trade and productive
investment flows5. Deregulation allowed the financial system to become one of the main
(M. Derthick and P. Quirk, The Politics of Deregulation (Washington, DC:Brookings Institution Press, 1985); W.
Megginson and J. Netter, ‘From State to Market: A Survey of Empirical Studies of Privatization’, Journal of
Economic Literature (2001), online.)
(Dicken, P., Global Shift: Reshaping the Global Economic Map in the 21 st Century, 4th edn. (New York: Guilford
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centres of redistributive activity through speculation, predation, fraud, and thievery.
Stock promotions, ponzi schemes, structured asset destruction through inflation, assetstripping through mergers and acquisitions, the promotion of levels of debt incumbency
that reduced whole populations, even in the advanced capitalist countries, to debt
peonage, to say nothing of corporate fraud, dispossession of assets (the raiding of
pension funds and their decimation by stock and corporate collapses) by credit and stock
manipulations—all of these became central features of the capitalist financial system.
3. The management and manipulation of crises. Beyond the speculative and often fraudulent
froth that characterizes much of neoliberal financial manipulation, there lies a deeper
process that entails the springing of ‘the debt trap’ as a primary means of accumulation
by dispossession. Crisis creation, management, and manipulation on the world stage has
evolved into the fine art of deliberative redistribution of wealth from poor countries to
the rich. I documented the impact of Volcker’s interest rate increase on Mexico earlier.
While proclaiming its role as a noble leader organizing ‘bail-outs’ to keep global capital
accumulation on track, the US paved the way to pillage the Mexican economy.
The analogy with the deliberate creation of unemployment to produce a labour
surplus convenient for further accumulation is exact. Valuable assets are thrown out of
use and lose their value. They lie fallow until capitalists possessed of liquidity choose to
breathe new life into them. The danger, however, is that crises might spin out of control
and become generalized, or that revolts will arise against the system that creates them.
One of the prime functions of state interventions and of international institutions is to
control crises and devaluations in ways that permit accumulation by dispossession to
occur without sparking a general collapse or popular revolt (as happened in both
Indonesia and Argentina). The structural adjustment programme administered by the
Wall Street–Treasury–IMF complex takes care of the first while it is the job of the
comprador state apparatus (backed by military assistance from the imperial powers) in
the country that has been raided to ensure that the second does not occur. But the signs
of popular revolt are everywhere, as illustrated by the Zapatista uprising in Mexico,
innumerable anti-IMF riots, and the so-called ‘anti-globalization’ movement that cut its
teeth in the revolts at Seattle, Genoa, and elsewhere.
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4. State redistributions. The state, once neoliberalized, becomes a prime agent of
redistributive policies, reversing the flow from upper to lower classes that had occurred
during the era of embedded liberalism. It does this in the first instance through pursuit
of privatization schemes and cutbacks in those state expenditures that support the social
wage. Even when privatization appears to be beneficial to the lower classes, the longterm effects can be negative. At first blush, for example, Thatcher’s programme for the
privatization of social housing in Britain appeared as a gift to the lower classes, whose
members could now convert from rental to ownership at a relatively low cost, gain
control over a valuable asset, and augment their wealth. But once the transfer was
accomplished housing speculation took over, particularly in prime central locations,
eventually bribing or forcing low-income populations out to the periphery in cities like
London and turning erstwhile working-class housing estates into centres of intense
gentrification. The loss of affordable housing in central areas produced homelessness for
some and long commutes for those with low-paying service jobs. The privatization of the
ejidos in Mexico during the 1990s had analogous effects upon the prospects for the
Mexican peasantry, forcing many rural dwellers off the land into the cities in search of
employment. The Chinese state has sanctioned the transfer of assets to a small elite to the
detriment of the mass of the population and provoking violently repressed protests.
Reports now indicate that as many as 350,000 families (a million people) are being
displaced to make way for the urban renewal of much of old Beijing, with the same
outcome as that in Britain and Mexico outlined above. In the US, revenue-strapped
municipalities are now regularly using the power of eminent domain to displace lowand even moderate-income property owners living in perfectly good housing stock in
order to free land for upper-income and commercial developments that will enhance the
tax base (in New York State there are more than sixty current cases of this).
Levien (2012) believes that the only coherent way of defining accumulation by dispossession
is the use of extra-economic coercion to expropriate means of production, subsistence or
common social wealth for capital accumulation. It is not simply an economic process of
over-accumulated capital seizing hold of under-commodified assets (Harvey 2003, 2006a),
but fundamentally a political process in which states – or other coercion wielding entities –
use extra-economic force to help capitalists overcome barriers to accumulation. It is a form of
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class struggle that appears ‘as a crystal-clear relation of expropriation’ lacking ‘the fetishistic
character assumed by capital’s normalization, or the ordinary run of things’ (De Angelis
2007, 139).12 While analyzing circuits of capital may explain why there is more or less
pressure toward dispossession, it does not tell us why capital would need to dispossess land
rather than purchase it through the ordinary operation of real estate markets, or whether it
will be successful, which is ultimately decided by the balance of class forces (Brenner 1976,
De Angelis 2007). Rather than assuming its economic role into the definition, this meansspecific understanding invites comparative research into its conjunctural economic role and
political outcome in different times and places.
Land Seizure and Land Denial
Both primitive accumulation and ABD have been conceptualised in a way which implicitly
presumes that the expropriated resources are initially owned or held by the dispossessed
groups. However, deprivation of assets can take the form of denial of entitlements that have
not yet been realized, as contrasted to actual dispossession. For instance, not implementing
(re)distributive land reform deprives landless households from receiving parcels of land to
which they are, or might have been, entitled (Borras and Franco 2010). The notion of
‘accumulation by denial’ thus pertains to the kind of deprivation resulting from pre-emptive
capture rather than actual transfer of resources. While the notion of denial may be implicit in
Marx’s primitive accumulation and Harvey’s ABD, it needs to be explicitly articulated to
highlight the analytical difference between (i) the expropriation of resources that are already
possessed and (ii) barring access to resources to which there is entitlement (Adnan 2012).
Accordingly, I have divided the mechanisms of land grabbing into two analytically distinct
categories. First, when an area already owned or possessed by a group is taken over by
others, the process is termed land seizure. Second, when a group is prevented from gaining
access to land to which it is entitled, the mechanism is regarded as land denial. Despite these
differences, both processes result in outcomes that have similar consequences in terms of
deprivation of land and can be regarded as constituting complementary strands of the
broader category of land alienation. Furthermore, the processes of land seizure and land
denial can take place simultaneously, or sequentially, in the actual dynamics of land
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alienation6. Significantly, the notion of land denial is logically predicated upon the prior
possibility of gaining or being entitled to land. It thus draws attention to the need for
analysing the mechanisms of land gain in order to better understand the causal factors
underlying land loss, as indeed undertaken below. Furthermore, this distinction is relevant
for distinguishing analytically between different kinds of resistance to land alienation, viz.
struggles against (i) land seizure and (ii) land denial (Borras and Franco 2010, 29–30).
Movements against Accumulation by Dispossession
Insurgent movements against accumulation by dispossession did not necessarily appreciate
being co-opted by socialist developmentalism. The patchy record of success for the socialist
alternative (the early achievements of Cuba in fields of health care, education, and
agronomy initially inspired before later flagging), and the climate of repressive politics
largely orchestrated by Cold War politics, made it increasingly difficult for the traditional
left to claim a position of leadership rather than of coercive domination in relation to these
The insurgent movements against accumulation by dispossession generally took a
different political path, in some instances quite hostile to socialist politics. This was
sometimes for ideological but in other instances simply for pragmatic and organizational
reasons that derived from the very nature of what such struggles were and are about. To
begin with, the variety of such struggles was and is simply stunning. It is hard to even
imagine connections between them. The struggles of the Ogoni people against the
degradation of their lands by Shell Oil; the longdrawn-out struggles against World Bankbacked dam construction projects in India and Latin America; peasant movements against
biopiracy; struggles against genetically modified foods and for the authenticity of local
production systems; fights to preserve access for indigenous populations to forest reserves
while curbing the activities of the timber companies; political struggles against privatization;
movements to procure labour rights or women’s rights in developing countries; campaigns
Wolf (1969, 26–27 and 280–281) notes the simultaneous pursuit of land seizure and denial by private haciendas encroaching
upon the territory of Indian peasants in Mexico.
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to protect biodiversity and to prevent habitat destruction; peasant movements to gain access
to land; protests against highway and airport construction; literally hundreds of protests
against IMF-imposed austerity programmes—these were all part of a volatile mix of protest
movements that swept the world and increasingly grabbed the headlines during and after
the 1980s.21 These movements and revolts were frequently crushed with ferocious violence,
for the most part by state powers acting in the name of ‘order and stability’. Client states,
supported militarily or in some instances with special forces trained by the major military
apparatuses (led by the US, with Britain and France playing a minor role), took the lead in a
system of repressions and liquidations to ruthlessly check activist movements challenging
accumulation by dispossession.
In the developing countries, where opposition to accumulation by dispossession can
be stronger, the role of the neoliberal state quickly assumes that of active repression even to
the point of low-level warfare against oppositional movements (many of which can now
conveniently be designated as ‘drug trafficking’ or ‘terrorist’ so as to garner US military
assistance and support, as in Colombia). Other movements, such as the Zapatistas in Mexico
or the landless peasant movement in Brazil, are contained by state power through a mix of
co-optation and marginalization.
Then there are all those social movements struggling against specific aspects of
neoliberal practices, particularly accumulation by dispossession, that either resist predatory
neoliberalism (such as the Zapatista revolutionary movement in Mexico) or seek access to
resources hitherto denied them (such as the landless peasant movement in Brazil or those
leading the factory occupations in Argentina). Centre-left coalitions, openly critical of
neoliberalization, have taken over political power, and seem poised to deepen and extend
their influence all over Latin America. The surprise success of the Congress Party returning
to power in India with a left-wing mandate is yet another case in point. The desire for an
alternative to neoliberalization is abundantly in evidence7. There are even signs of discontent
within ruling policy circles as to the wisdom of neoliberal propositions and prescriptions.
Some earlier enthusiasts (such as the economists Jeffrey Sachs, Joe Stiglitz, and Paul
B. Gills (ed.), Globalization and the Politics of Resistance (New York: Palgrave, 2001); T. Mertes (ed.), A Movement of
Movements (London: Verso, 2004); P. Wignaraja (ed.), New Social Movements in the South: Empowering the People
(London: Zed Books, 1993); J. Brecher, T. Costello, and B. Smith, Globalization from Below: The Power of Solidarity
(Cambridge, Mass.: South End Press, 2000).
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Krugman) and participants (such as George Soros) have now turned critical, even to the
point of suggesting some sort of return to a modified Keynesianism or a more ‘institutional’
approach to the solution of global problems—everything from better regulatory structures
of global governance to closer supervision of the reckless speculations of the financiers8. In
recent years there have been not only insistent calls but also major blueprints for the reform
of global governance9. A revival of academic and institutional interest in the cosmopolitan
ethic (‘an injury to one is an injury to all’) as a basis for global governance has also occurred
and, problematic though its overly simplistic universalisms may be, it is not entirely bereft
of merit10. It is exactly in such a spirit that heads of states periodically assemble, as 189 of
them did at the Millennium Summit in 2000, to sign pious declarations of their collective
commitments to eradicate poverty, illiteracy, and disease in short order. But commitments to
eradicate illiteracy, for example, sound hollow against the background of substantial and
continuing declines in the proportion of national product going into public education almost
everywhere in the neoliberal world.
Objectives of this sort cannot be realized without challenging the fundamental power
bases upon which neoliberalism has been built and to which the processes of
neoliberalization have so lavishly contributed. This means not only reversing the
withdrawal of the state from social provision but also confronting the overwhelming powers
of finance capital. Keynes held the ‘coupon clippers’, who parasitically lived off dividends
and interest, in contempt and looked forward to what he called ‘the euthanasia of the
rentier’ as a necessary condition for not only achieving some modicum of economic justice
but also avoiding the devastation of those periodic crises to which capitalism was prone. The
virtue of the Keynesian compromise and the embedded liberalism constructed after 1945
Stiglitz, Globalization and its Discontents, and The Roaring Nineties; P. Krugman, The Great Unravelling: Losing Our
Way in the Twentieth Century (New York: Norton, 2003). G. Soros, George Soros on Globalization
(New York: Public Affairs, 2002); id., The Bubble of American Supremacy: Correcting the Misuse of American Power
(New York: Public Affairs, 2003); J. Sachs, ‘New Global Consensus on Helping the Poorest of the Poor’, Global
Policy Forum Newsletter, 18 Apr. 2000. Says Sachs, for example, ‘I do not believe in global governance by the rich
countries, or international voting weighted by money as in the IMF and the World Bank today, or permanent
government by entrenched bureaucracies unencumbered by external review as has been true of the IMF, or
governance by conditionality set by rich countries and imposed on the desperately poor.’
Harvey cites just two: United Nations Development Program, Human Development Report 1999; World
Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization, A Fair Globalization.
D. Held, Global Covenant: The Social Democratic Alternative to the Washington Consensus (Cambridge: Polity,
2004); I reviewed some of the dilemmas of application of the cosmopolitan ethic in D. Harvey, ‘Cosmopolitanism
and the Banality of Geographical Evils’, in J. Comaroff and J. Comaroff, Millennial Capitalism and the Culture of
Neoliberalism (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2000) 271–310.
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was that it went some way to realizing those goals. The advent of neoliberalization, by
contrast, has celebrated the role of the rentier, cut taxes on the rich, privileged dividends and
speculative gains over wages and salaries, and unleashed untold though geographically
contained financial crises, with devastating effects on employment and life chances in
country after country. The only way to realize the pious goals is to confront the powers of
finance and to roll back the class privileges that have been built thereon. But there is no sign
anywhere among the powers that be of doing anything of the sort.
With respect to the return to Keynesianism, however, the Bush administration has
beaten everyone to the gun, being prepared to countenance spiralling federal deficits
stretching on endlessly into the future. Contrary to traditional Keynesian prescriptions,
however, the redistributions in this case are upwards towards the large corporations, their
wealthy CEOs, and their financial/legal advisers at the expense of the poor, the middle
classes, and even ordinary shareholders (including the pension funds), to say nothing of
future generations. But the fact that traditional Keynesianism can be bowdlerized and
turned upsidedown in this fashion should not surprise us. For, as I have also already shown,
there is abundant evidence that neoliberal theory and rhetoric (particularly the political
rhetoric concerning liberty and freedom) has also all along primarily functioned as a mask
for practices that are all about the maintenance, reconstitution, and restoration of elite class
power. The exploration of alternatives has, therefore, to move outside the frames of
reference defined by this class power and market ethics while staying soberly anchored in
the realities of our time and place. And these realities point to the possibility of a major crisis
within the heartland of the neoliberal order itself.
Resistance to land alienation and primitive accumulation: forms and modalities
Historical evidence indicates that land alienation can provoke resistance from the social
groups and classes being dispossessed, which in turn can constrain primitive accumulation
and the expansion of capitalism11. However, such struggles can also facilitate capitalist
development by reducing the capability of powerful non-capitalist classes to acquire and
control land. Resistance to land alienation can thus cut either way with regard to the
See Moore (1966, 13, 28), Brenner (1976, 70–71, 1977, 73–75), Perelman (1984, 46), De Angelis (2004, 79) and Adnan (1985, PE62, fn 12).
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prospects of primitive accumulation and capitalist development, depending upon the
configuration and balance of forces at a given conjuncture.
The existing literature distinguishes between covert and overt, as well as violent and
non-violent, forms of resistance among subordinate groups12. For present purposes, wemay
produce a fourfold typology of resistance, as shown in Table 1.
Instances of covert resistance against powerholders are provided by acts of sabotage, gossip,
rumour, foot-dragging, dissimulation, etc. (Kula 1976, 186, Scott 1985, 1986). Also termed
‘avoidance protest’ by Adas (1986, 64–86), this kind of resistance consciously bypasses open
dissent and direct confrontation with dominant groups and agencies. While covert
resistance is typically non-violent, it can exceptionally take violent forms (Adas 1986, 78–80),
e.g. anonymous acts of assassination, injury, arson, or burning down of forests (Kerkvliet
1986, 116–117, Peluso 1992, 101, Guha 2000, 107–125).
In contrast, forms of overt resistance by subordinate groups involve open dissent and
direct confrontation with powerful groups and agencies, which can also take either violent
or non-violent forms. Forms of legal–constitutional protest, such as public meetings and
demonstrations, provide instances of open resistance that are usually non-violent. In
contrast, armed struggle and insurgency, rebellion and revolution, constitute forms of
violent overt resistance. Unlike covert struggles, participation in overt actions entails the risk
of exposing the identity of those involved, making them potentially vulnerable to reprisals
by the concerned powerholders (Adnan 2007, 210–211).
Empirical evidence indicates that resistance by subordinate groups can shift from
covert to overt forms with changing circumstances13. Correspondingly, overt nonviolent
See Scott (1985, 1986), Adas (1986), Turton (1986), Kerkvliet (1986, 1990, 2009), Adnan (2007), and Walker
See studies of resistance in the Philippines (Kerkvliet 1990, 179–182), Bangladesh (Adnan 2007, 183–185), and
China (Walker 2008a, 463)
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resistance may become transformed into violent protest under exceptional circumstances
(Adas 1986, 82–83). Furthermore, the modalities of resistance can also change in terms of the
scale and features of group organization and collective action (Tilly 1978, 7, 78). For instance,
the evolution of resistance can involve formation of broad alliances and coalitions, as well as
coordination of activities by a network of organizations operating at multiple levels, ranging
from the local to the global. As discussed below, such shifts in the forms and modalities of
resistance can critically affect the outcomes of land alienation and primitive accumulation.
Economic Liberalization in India
Although economic globalization in South Asia may be traced to the colonial policies which
coercively opened her up to metropolitan capital, the contemporary era of globalization in
India starts with the introduction of wide-ranging economic liberalization measures. These
coincided both with the end of the Cold War and of the Sikh militant challenge to the
‘secular’ Indian state. The fact that the architect of the reform programme was both a Sikh
and a member of the Congress Party was also significant for future developments in the
Punjab. No longer able to count on the continued economic support of the Soviet Union and
the markets of Eastern Bloc countries, Dr Singh arguably had no alternative but to seek an
IMF stand-by loan when confronted by an acute balance of payments crisis in August 1991.
The Indian economy had hitherto followed a policy of import-substitution and state
socialism since independence which was seen as necessary in order to remedy the legacies of
colonial rule: backwardness and poverty. On the eve of independence, India’s first Prime
Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, made a ‘tryst with destiny’ which included a commitment to
‘the ending of poverty and ignorance and disease and the inequality of opportunity.’9 India,
in Nehru’s words, must ‘break with the dead wood of the past and not allow it to dominate
the present’ (Nehru  2003: 509).
Science offered a way forward since it ‘opened up innumerable avenues for the
growth of knowledge and added to the power of man to such an extent that for the first time
it was possible to conceive that man could triumph over and shape his physical
environment’ (Nehru  2003: 511). In achieving mastery over nature with the
application of modern scientific techniques to the economy, Indians would cast off their
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narrow outlooks and act as a people. The appalling poverty and rural misery that India was
faced with at present were attributed to colonial policies not with the instruments of
governmentality they had introduced. Nehru argued against Gandhi, that there was nothing
quintessentially western about modernity; modernity was universal. The state, although an
instrument of oppression and exploitation under colonial rule, would behave differently
once independence had been achieved. It would become a vehicle for national liberation and
rejuvenation, bringing tangible, material rewards for the ‘sons of the soil’. However, by
tying the legitimacy of the new national state to its ability to meet the needs of its citizens,
Nehru created opportunities for challenges, by ‘communal’ organizations, to the state’s
authority in times of economic decline or hardship. Planning was central to the achievement
the task of development. The establishment of the Planning Commission in 1950 enabled the
state to direct India’s economy through a series of Five Year Plans. As a result of state
intervention in the economy, India was able to record high rates of growth in the early years
of independence. The 1950s and 1960s saw rates of industrial growth of around 7% per
annum (Corbridge and Harriss 1999:60). However, although economic development and the
alleviation of poverty were stated government goals, India was unable to match the success
of her neighbours in East Asian states in the years that followed. Between 1970 and 1982,
India recorded a growth rate of just 4.3% per annum (Corbridge and Harriss 1999: 78). Neoliberals have long contrasted the success of the export-led strategies of the East Asian ‘Tiger
Economies’ with the import substitution strategies adopted by states in Latin America and
India. According to one of the architects of India’s present policy of economic liberalization,
Jagdish Bhagwati, ‘the energy, talents, and worldly ambitions of India’s many
millions…need merely an appropriate policy framework to produce the economic magic
that Jawaharlal Nehru wished for his compatriots but which, like many wellmeaning
intellectuals of his time, he mistakenly sought in now discredited economic doctrines’
(Bhagwati 1993: 98). However, India fared poorly not only in comparison to the ‘Tiger
Economies’ but also to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and other socialist societies.
Drèze and Sen make the point that India has been left behind by societies that have pursued
a variety of different economic policies, from marketoriented capitalism to communist-led
socialism (Sen and Drèze 1999:2). Despite no major famine occurring in India since
independence (Sen and Drèze 1999:181), rural and urban poverty remained endemic with
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almost half the population were living below the poverty line in 1960-1 (Corbridge and
It is suggested here that, in contrast to the conventional neo-liberal wisdom, the
failure of India to realize Nehru’s ‘tryst with destiny’, was not primarily economic but
political. The state elite, led by Nehru, that had inherited power from the British enjoyed an
unprecedented degree of legitimacy, having led India to Independence during the freedom
struggle and presided over the adoption of a Constitution which proclaimed India’s
commitment to a democratic socialist path. However, in order to achieve its developmental
goals, the Nehruvian leadership of the Congress party had to enter into alliances with
regional power-brokers who managed to blunt the radical thrust of the policies of the central
government. Pranab Bardhan has identified three dominant classes: the industrial capitalist
class or bourgeoisie, the rich farmers or kulaks10 and the public-sector professionals or
bureaucrats (Bardhan 1984:54). These classes were drawn from different sections of India’s
diverse population and by no means had developed a common ideological framework by
the time of Independence. Indeed, the conflict of interests between the urban and industrial
classes on the one hand and the kulak class on the other has become more acute in recent
years and has continued to frustrate the government’s attempts to reform the economy. For
Corbridge and Harriss, the economic dominance of this numerically small class of rich
peasants which controls a large share of the land, is bound up with the ‘reproduction of the
pervasive poverty which is overwhelmingly characteristic of India’ (Corbridge and Harriss
The onset of economic liberalization, however, has disproportionately benefited the
dominant classes, giving rise to even greater inequality between an expanding high income,
predominantly Hindu middle-class and the urban and rural poor. The implementation of
SAPs have led to the deregulations of the economy and privatization; reduced pubic
expenditure; devaluation and an increase in foreign direct investment. Since 1991 numerous
measures have been adopted to remove restrictions on the role of private enterprise in India
and export-led growth has become a major thrust of India’s strategy. As a result of these
economic reforms, India’s manufacturing industries have witnessed dramatic growth of
between 6 and 7% per annum11 leading to the accumulation of huge foreign exchange
resources. The dismantling of the infamous ‘licensing and permit Raj’, whereby every
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company seeking to invest in India needed to obtain a permit from the government, led to
an increase in foreign direct investment as important fields, which were earlier closed to
foreign investors like mining, oil exploration, transport, telecommunications were opened.
Foreign direct investment grew from $200 million in 1991 to a peak of $3.6 billion in 1997. Of
particular importance, has been India’s entry into the field of Information Technology. Table
1 looks at Internet growth in India which has become a major player in the IT revolution as a
major source of cheap, skilled software engineers. Although Internet penetration in India
remains low in comparison to the PRC and developed countries, India has the highest
subscriber growth rate (44%) in the Asia-Pacific region. By January 2001 there were over 5.5
million Internet users, up from only 10,000 in August 1995. If Internet penetration continues
at the same rate, India is expected to have over 21.3 million subscribers by 2005 (National
Association of Software and Service Companies (NAASCOM): http://www.nasscom.org]
(Retrieved: 31 March 2003).
The BJP government, which ruled India during the early part at the beginning of last
decade, initially pursued a form of economic nationalism, swadeshi, which stalled in the
prevailing climate of the Asian crisis. Thereafter it embraced privatisation and independent
management of formerly excluded areas of the domestic economy, such as electrical power,
and gave more latitude to state governments to encourage foreign direct investment (FDI).
Signalling the extent of the change, the Home Minister declared: The BJP believes in
swadeshi, which in essence means that India has to develop on its own. It certainly does not
mean xenophobia or belief that everything foreign is bad14. Finally, more so than the other
trilateral states, India has been directly affected by the post-9/11 environment. In particular,
the NATO invasion and occupation of Afghanistan instigated a closer relationship with
Washington as well as further propelling the BJP away from its autarkic impulses. The
recent installation of Manmohan Singh, associated with the reforms of 1991 under Congress,
as prime minister in 2004 suggests that the basic consensus towards cautious reformism will
be retained. This is in keeping with general perceptions of Indian foreign policy, whichdespite deep-rooted interests and fierce political debate retains a strong degree of
consensus15. The difficult task for the new government continues to be to distinguish itself
Cited in Nayar, Globalisation and Nationalism, p 251. See also Brandock, India's Foreign Policy since 1971, p
R Hardgrave & S Kochanek, India: Government and Politics in a Developing Nation, New York: Harcourt-Brace, 2000, pp 413-414.
62 | P a g e
from the BJP to the Indian electorate as well as to hold its fragile coalition of antiliberalisation parties together, all the while pursuing essentially the same policies as the
previous government. In the developing world, the genesis of neoliberal policies lies in the
Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAP) and political and economic conditionalities of the
international monetary and development institutions to which they have been subjected
(Peck, 2001). India is no different, as it has been under this regime since the mid-1980s when
policy changes occasioned by liberalisation and overseas financing in the consumer durables
sector enabled it to reorient economic policy in line with prevalent trends at that time. These
policies resulted in a balance of payments crisis as a consequence of debt-led growth which
led to near bankruptcy by 1991 when full-scale neoliberal reforms were put in place at the
insistence of the World Bank and the IMF. Other factors that compelled India to seek an
integration with the world economy included the collapse of the Soviet Union, which was
India’s model of economic planning; rapid growth of its principle rival China, due to
opening up of its economy; and the desire to emulate the example of the East Asian Tiger
economies. The shift of focus from policies of self-reliance based on a state-led economic
planning model to a policy strategy of integration with the world economy based on
neoliberalism has been the principal change in India’s political economy. Post-1991 different
governments have not only maintained these policies but have accelerated the processes of
liberalisation, deregulation and disinvestment. In combination with a spectacularly high
economic growth rate second only in the world to China’s, the Indian economy has seen a
massive change built upon increasing Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), massive boom in the
IT sector based on Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), and increasing foreign exchange
reserves on the back of budgetary austerity and increasing trade. India is held up as an ideal
example of a developing country espousing governance based upon democratic ideals and a
forward-looking knowledge economy policy (Dahlman & Utz, 2005). Though, India’s vast
middle class and industrial sector has benefited from these reforms, on the flip side,
worsening rich-poor, urban-rural, middle class-lower class gaps, and the widening digital
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These contradictions in the
Knowledge Society and Knowledge Policy
With regards to knowledge, it has been argued that indeed
there is something new about the nature of knowledge at this
juncture in history. In academic and policy discourse, what is
often implied in relation to knowledge is the capability and
life-chance enhancing role played by scientific and
technological knowledge. While this refers to the role of
knowledge in the human development of individuals, the
notion of the knowledge society looks at the society-wide
developmental impact of knowledge. The development of the
knowledge society is at the same time an event denoting social
change, and a subject of scientific analysis and political
The one major academic source of the
knowledge society concept are the theories of particular
transitions within the modern era, such as theories of “risk
society” (Beck, 1988), “the information age” and “the network
society” (Castells, 2000), “control revolution” (Beniger, 1986),
“knowledge society” (Stehr, 1994, 2001), and many others.
The notion of knowledge policy refers to the political
mechanisms used to realise knowledge goals at the individual
and social level. The policy focus on impacts of knowledge on
society is part of what Nico Stehr (2004) has termed
“knowledge politics”. The reason for the emergence of
knowledge policies, according to Stehr, include, the
emergence of new forms of knowledge leading in part to the
diminishing of difference between applied and basic research;
the rapid speed and volume of emerging new knowledge
creates increased capacities to act, concerns for possible
adverse impacts, increased risk and uncertainty, increased
social, economic and political centrality of knowledge and a
wish by governments to regulate knowledge in the face of
globalisation and finally a further strengthening of the
authority of science in modern society. The policy resulting
from this new situation, relates to “policy aimed at facilitating
the development of knowledge-intensive industries, and is
about ‘knowledge work’ and ‘knowledge workers’ ” (Rooney,
Hearn, Mandeville & Joseph, 2003, p. xv). Further, the
knowledge-related policy discourse has an engineering bent,
as it fixes attention on scientific, technological and information
infrastructure (Graham & Rooney, 2001 cited in Rooney et al.,
record of neoliberal policies
have not escaped the attention
of India’s knowledge policy
opinion makers and shapers.
However, what they conclude
from these problems is very
important – that more in-depth
education, and an EnglishSpeaking
inevitably close the gaps and
enable India to leap-frog to a
knowledge era (Dahlman &
Utz, 2005). Knowledge society
discourse in India is a byproduct
reforms post-1991 whereby, as
the crisis in the economy
subsided and as the growth
rate surged in the last years of
the 20th century, the knowledge
society became a symbol of the
aspirations of a new, resurgent India. The vision of India as a knowledge society stands on
the ruins of a statist, dirigiste policy regime that was replaced in 1991, with one hopefully
more in tune with the times.
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Firstly, the self-image of the state is an important variable in knowledge policy
discourse. Ever since independence in 1947, India has sought to shed the post-colonial image
by recourse to first a socialist and more recently a neoliberal model of development. A selfimage of a resurgent India is very important for the state. The second lesson is that India has
not been able to fully exploit its potential as a democracy due to legacies of past such as
caste and religion, many of which were sharpened by its colonial experience. Thirdly, India’s
knowledge policy discourse is inextricably linked to developmental-neoliberalism. India,
being an interventionist state, has used knowledge policy to argue that a strong-state is
needed to harness the potential of neoliberal policies.
India is emerging as an important source of new technologies such as computer
software and biotechnology. India’s encounter with neoliberalism and knowledge
policymaking is motivated by a combination of developmentalism and self-perception of the
state. Starting from the Independence in 1947 till the mid-1980s India’s approach to
knowledge policy had been towards indigenisation and self-sufficiency through state
production and regulation of the private sector. This was the era of techno-nationalism.
India started flirting with liberalisation and overseas investment in the mid-1980s under the
Rajiv Gandhi government. One focus of the liberalisation of the 1980s was to modernise the
telecommunications infrastructure as a basis of export-led development. The rationale was
that infrastructure development could help India to leap-frog into the information age. Thus
started the era of techno-populism and this formed the basis of the first phase of outsourcing
which started in the 1980s. The economic crisis of 1991 led to the introduction of wide
ranging neoliberal reforms of the economy. The 1991 reforms showed that fifty years of
socialist idealism had become intellectually bankrupt. If socialism was unsustainable in the
Indian context, neoliberalism is even a more farfetched utopia. Though rapid economic
growth since 1991 is cited as a proof of success of neoliberalism, this growth has largely bypassed a large section of the society as is evident in worsening disparities along rural-urban,
rich-poor, technological-nontechnological fault lines. Development in India is a perennial
hostage to the nature of the Indian state. Though India is a democracy, many institutional
oversight mechanisms and institutional safeguards to keep a tab on the politics of vested
interests and populism are missing. Once elected, the governments are free to pursue their
agenda, often ignoring civil society stakeholders. The lack of dialogue between the state and
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many self-identified stakeholders with competing visions of development is a problem.
Another problem is the practical matter of an equitable distribution of wealth and welfare
across a mass of over a billion people. Affirmative action policies, targeting nearly half of the
population, have had an undesired negative impact – the rise of identity politics along caste,
religion and class lines, something which is exploited to the hilt by the mainstream political
parties. This type of identity consciousness is an impediment to a well-functioning
democracy and policy process. In India many public sector departments reflect the mindset
of caste. The caste factor is evident in recruitment, promotion and daily routines of
administration. At the international level, India has been obsessed with a self-image of
being an important power player. The discursive shift from the frame of self-sufficiency to
that of untapped potentials across a range of policy sectors have served to reinforce the
geopolitical visions of the Indian state. India’s knowledge policy has served to refashion it
from a technology demonstrator to a knowledge superpower. India is happy to adopt
neoliberal knowledge and economic policies if they improve its geopolitical power
capabilities. Neoliberalism is promoted as a popular choice nowadays in the media and
government discourse along with new imaginaries of the tech-savvy citizen such as the
“Global Indian” or “Generation X”. The populist nature of India’s knowledge discourse in
the mid-1980s laid the groundwork for even more populist knowledge discourse at the turn
of the millennium. A decade after India officially enshrined neoliberalism, when glaring
disparities stared it in the face, the state popularised the knowledge discourse to emphasise
that neoliberalism is the most appropriate way need to meet the development-enhancing
imperatives of globalisation and technological revolution. At this moment developmentalneoliberalism has a sway and has given the state fresh cause to intervene in the society and
The Distributive Effects of Liberalization, Privatization, Globalization
The corporate business sector was pushed to the forefront of the economy, presented
as innovators, as the engines of change and growth. An India of 1.2 billion was reduced to
India, Inc. Public sector units had come to be broadly seen as redundant and unnecessarily
bureaucratic, if not hopelessly corrupt. Privatization was strongly promoted as the panacea
(solution) that would resolve all of India’s structural inefficiencies and problems.
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International financial institutions have been systematically flogging the LPG mantra of
Liberalization, Privatization and Globalization through a carrot-and-stick approach: on one
hand, the country was lured by promises of rapid growth, modernization and increased
social well being while, on the other hand, such reforms were pushed through Structural
Adjustment Programs and loan conditionalities.
In 1991, at the time of these economic reforms, India was in the midst of a balance-ofpayment crisis so accepting international institutional assistance also meant accepting their
diktats. The World Bank initiated a $500 million Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) that
was also supported by an IMF-led stabilization program. Approved in December 1991, the
SAP closed in December 1993. The program envisioned by the SAP strongly pushed
deregulation and liberalization with the idea of opening India’s economy to the world.
Government subsidies were cut substantially; trade policy was liberalized with decreased
tariffs; industrial and import licensing were reduced or removed considerably, foreign direct
investment, foreign equity investment and foreign participation in Indian businesses were
strongly increased. In 1991, with introduction of the New Industrial Policy, the public
sector’s domination was broken and crucial economic sectors such as power,
telecommunications, infrastructure, mining and banking were opened up to private
investment. Manufacturing sectors – including iron, steel and shipbuilding – were also
opened up for private business ownership. All traditionally common property resources,
public goods and services – including water, electricity, telecommunications, health and
education – were steadily enclosed and privatized.
The conditions were thus created for domestic and foreign private players to enter
and exploit a largely uncharted territory that they soon would come to dominate. While the
direct beneficiary of the new policy framework was the business sector, the middle classes
also welcomed the restructuring with open arms. India had been a domestic economy in
which production was intended for the Indian market, and consumption was based on local
production. With globalization, the country’s middle and upper classes quickly fell under
the spell of all that was foreign – they were hungry for international goods, values and
lifestyles. They identified Government’s policies as regressive and saw them as the reason
for their material deprivation. They supported India’s new access to the global market,
insofar as it gave them what they thought they so badly needed. Unfortunately, the general
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public has often remained oblivious to the deeper consequences the LPG process would
inflict on the socio-economic reality of India – especially for local producers, small farmers,
small industry and small retail. The middle and upper classes also became increasingly
detached and segregated in islands of status – removed from the broader country’s reality.
If, for some, India’s opening to the world economy simply meant being able to access foreign
consumer goods, for a much larger section of society this translated into a consistent,
constant and unstoppable threat to their very survival through the loot of their resources
and livelihoods. This divide has often been referred to as the “India-Bharat” divide – the
divide between the privileged consuming classes in largely urban settings and the peasants
and tribals in rural areas. These neo-liberal-paradigm-led structural changes were, in fact,
accompanied by a steady shift in mentality and approach to social policy where wealth
accumulation is presented as the foremost human achievement and poverty comes to be
seen as an individual failure. What this hides is the massive transfer of wealth from the poor
to the oligarchs, and the dispossession of millions from their resources, possessions, land
The Emerging Oligopolies: India
While privatization, deregulation and liberalization were presented as a bold way to break
away from the constraints of State monopoly and create a “level playing field,” the political
economy of the process actually translated into rising income inequalities. These new forces
greatly affected the entitlements levels of many different sections of the social ladder by
creating a new rung of large oligopolies dominated by a handful of private actors.
Deregulation exposes the poor to new threats of exploitation as deregulation and
privatization set the stage for a process known as “accumulation by encroachment or
dispossession.” This is a process typical of capitalism, wherein new resources are not created
ex novo, but are snatched from the pre-capitalistic or State sector through the direct
appropriation of previously common property – such as communal water and land as well
as public transportation, health and education resources – that can now all be privatized.
When growth happens through this process, it doesn’t lead to poverty reduction, it
just redistributes wealth from the large base at the bottom of society to a small elite at the
top. Studies on income tax reports by Banerjee and Piketty show undisputedly that with the
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New Economic Policy, the incomes of the top 1% income India’s earners increased by about
50%. Out of this 1%, the richest 1% saw their incomes increase by more than 3 times.5
Indeed, the LPG approach has proved to be especially beneficial to the privileged top 1%.
The problem is that, contrary to the promises of the “trickle-down theory,” wealth was being
sucked upwards – the rich were getting richer while the poor were rendered increasingly
dispossessed and marginalized – physically, socially and politically.
The most blatant evidence of the skewered pattern of wealth accumulation resulting from
neo-liberal policies is the creation of scores of new Indian billionaires in the midst of
growing swaths of poor, hungry, dispossessed and landless people. Practically unchallenged
in the newly opened market, a handful of well connected firms and families soon came to
control huge resources and this growing concentration of wealth laid the foundations for the
rise of the Indian oligarchs.
The 2011 Forbes list counts 50 Indian billionaires. Most famously, there is Lakshmi
Mittal, the owner of the Arcelor Mittal steel company and the world’s sixth richest man with
$31.1 billion. There are managers of the Reliance Empire (petrochemical and
telecommunications), the Ambani brothers, Mukesh (in ninth place with $27 billion) and
Anil (ranked 103rd with a scant $8.8 billion). Earnings from the Essar Group (minerals,
energy and communications) placed Sashi and Ravi Ruia in the 42nd position worldwide,
with $15.8 billion. The Jindal family (Jindal Steel and Power, Ltd.) ranks 56 th, with $13.2
billion. Gautam Adani’s Adani Group (real estate, power, oil and agriculture) has earned
him a slot as the world’s 81st richest man at $10 billion. Sunil Mittal, owner of the telecom
giant Bharti-Airtel, is the world’s 110th richest man with $8.3 billion. Finally, aluminum
baron Anil Agarwal of Vedanta Resources holds down position 154 with $6.4 billion.
The Jindals – Jindal Steel and Power Limited
Mining, Steel, Power, Infrastructure
Jindal Steel was started in 1952 by O.P. Jindal, a farmer’s son, who began by trading
in steel pipes. He moved on to manufacturing steel pipes and fittings and opened his first
factory near Kolkata. In a pattern familiar to other billionaire family companies, the Jindal
group took advantage of expanding via “backward integration.”
While steel remained the primary focus of business, the company went on to
diversify its holdings to include a wide portfolio ranging from mining operations to power
69 | P a g e
generation, infrastructure projects and telecommunications, making it one of India’s biggest
Since the founder’s demise, the Jindal family’s assets have been managed by his
widow, Savitri Jindal, and the couple’s four children, PR Jindal, Sajjan Jindal, Ratan Jindal
and Navin Jindal. Under a complex crossownership agreement, each brother holds the
largest holding of the arm he manages while holding shares in the all the others’ business
operations.(Source: The Financial Express: What not for the Jindal empire?)
Politicians, bureaucrats and business houses in India are not only a closely-knit
clique; indeed, in many cases, their roles appear interchangeable. Savitri Jindal, India’s
richest woman, is also a Congress Member of the Legislative Assembly and was Minister of
State for Revenue, Disaster Management, Rehabilitation and Housing in Haryana. Navin
Jindal is a standing Member of Parliament. Before his demise, O.P. Jindal was also active in
politics, winning a seat in Haryana State Assembly in 1991 and in Lokh Sabha in 1996. At the
time of his death, O.P. Jindal was also Power Minister in Haryana27.
The Jindal Group also has resorted to forceful land acquisition to further its mining
and industrial operations, opening way for additional violence and repression. In November
2009, a bomb blast targeted a convoy containing the West Bengal Chief Minister and Union
Steel Minister Paswan. Their vehicles were returning after having inaugurated the Jindal
Steel plant at Salboni. This incident unleashed a fury of brutal repression on the part of the
police forces. The corporate-led scramble to exploit Central India’s natural resources, land
and minerals particularly, justified by the corporate-state in the name of development comes
with dispossession and the expropriation of the commons for private interests as well as
Constitutional and human rights violations; this is fuelling the Naxal conflict, the armed
struggle between people who have resorted to violence to protest exploitation, loot and
forceful displacement, and the Government, which acts through police forces that routinely,
in the name of anti-Naxal operations, resort to unrestricted violence. Following the bomb
attack, several local boys and young villagers were labeled as Maoists and harassed, while
three innocent tribals were killed in a clash with police.
In another case of expropriation of the commons, Jindal Steel and Power Limited
(JSPL) was widely protested in Orissa after it acquired forest and community land for the
construction of a 12.5 MTPA (million tones per annum) steel plant without providing
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compensation to the local residents.28 The locals complained that what the government calls
its property is actually a community managed resource. They argue that the non-recognition
of common property for the sake of private appropriation constitutes the central weapon in
the unequal battle of accumulation by dispossession. The protests were inflamed by death of
an indigenous Adivasi tribal woman (who died while taking part in a hunger strike
protesting JSPL’s takeover of water from the local river to cool the furnaces of its steel
plant).29 Stories of distraught farmers forced to become casual laborers after being displaced
from their ancestral lands near the Rabo village tell another tale of the human impact of
privatization and of the broader trend that allows industries a free run as far as resources
and regulations are concerned. Dams built by private companies have risen aplenty across
rural India – even in defiance of Governmental objections – robbing common people of
livelihoods, land and water.
Jindal Steel is among the top tier of companies profiting through a more covert route:
JSPL is building one of the world’s largest Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects
in Chattisgarh. Clean Development Mechanisms were born as an initiative to fight climate
change through Carbon Trading. Jindal’s sponge-iron plant, spread over 320 hectares in
Chattisgarh, is supposed to help address climate change. Instead, JSPL’s plant is polluting
groundwater, air and contaminating crops.30 Through such CDMs, companies claim
benefits (often even in contravention with the CDM policy itself). Polluters also profit from
this newly opened commercial opportunity in several ways. Meanwhile the ability of CDMs
to reduce Greenhouse Gases remains controversial. CDMs function by establishing a system
of “outsourcing pollution” that actually benefits polluters.
JSW Steel Ltd. (BSE: 500228, NSE: JSWSTEEL) is an Indian steel company owned by the
JSW Group based in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. JSW Steel is among India's largest steel
producers, with a capacity of 10 MT as of 2011.
As part of the US$10 billion O. P. Jindal Group, JSW Group has diversified interests
in steel, energy, minerals and mining, aluminium, infrastructure and logistics, cement and
information technology. JSW's history can be traced back to 1982, when the Jindal Group
acquired Piramal Steel Limited, which operated a mini steel mill at Tarapur in Maharashtra
and renamed it as Jindal Iron and Steel Company (JISCO).
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The Group set up its first steel
plant in 1982 at Vasind near Mumbai.
Soon after, it acquired Piramal Steel Ltd.,
In 1994, Jindal Vijayanagar Steel (JVSL) was
set up with its plant located at Toranagallu in
the Bellary-Hospet area in the State of
Karnataka, the heart of the high-grade iron
which operated a mini steel mill at
ore belt and spread over 3700 acres of land
Tarapur in Maharashtra. The Jindals, who
over a decade. It also set up a plant at Salem
had wide experience in the steel industry,
with an annual capacity of 1 million tonne. It
is on the threshold of a major expansion plan
renamed it as Jindal Iron and Steel Co.
of adding 3.2 million tons per annum to its at
Ltd. (JISCO). Jindal Vijayanagar Steel Ltd.
Vijayanagar Plant to achieve 11 MTPA by
(JVSL) was set up in 1994, with its plant
2011. It has established a strong presence in
the global value-added steel segment with the
located at Toranagallu in the Bellary-
acquisition of a steel mill in US and a Service
Hospet area of Karnataka, the heart of the
Center in UK. JSW Steel has also formed a
high-grade iron ore belt and spread over
3,700 acres of land. It is just 340 km from
Bangalore, and is well connected with
joint venture for setting up a steel plant in
Georgia. The Company has further acquired
iron ore mines in Chile and coal mines in USA
both the Goa and Chennai ports. In 2005,
JISCO and JVSL merged to form JSW Steel Ltd.
JSW Steel has also formed a joint venture for setting up a steel plant in Georgia. The
Company has also tied up with JFE Steel Corp, Japan for manufacturing the high grade
automotive steel. JSW Steel has recently acquired a majority stake in Ispat Industries Ltd.
This will make JSW Steel India's largest steel producer with a combined capacity of 14.3
MTPA by March 2011. The Company has also acquired mining assets in Chile, USA and
JSW Steel Ltd.
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Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Steel, flat steel products, long steel products, wire products, plates
346.58 billion (US$6.0 billion) (2012)
16.26 billion (US$280 million) (2012)
Ispat industries Ltd
Figure 1 OCL building
OCL is the flag ship company of ‘Dalmia Group’ of companies, set up and operating from
Orissa Cement Ltd (OCL)
of ‘Dalmia’ group on the industrial scene of India can be traced back to pre-independence era.
Prominent among the early entrepreneurs who laid the industrial foundation of India was
Dalmia family. Established in 1932 with a sugar factory, the Dalmia group gradually diversified
into a broad spectrum of activities and were involved in many pioneering ventures. For reasons
of operational efficiency, during fifties the Group split into separate entities.
Against the said background Sjt. Jaidayalji Dalmia, an industrialist of farsighted vision
set up a cement plant at Rajgangpur during 1950-51 at the request of Government of Odisha to
manufacture super grade cement for use in the construction of the prestigious Hirakud Dam.
Orissa cement Ltd was incorporated on 11.10.1949 and its cement plant went on steam during
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OCL commissioned its Refractory plant in the year 1954, which today has grown into one
of the largest composite refractory plants in the country. It manufactures Silica, Basic Burnt
Magnesia Carbon, Fireclay & High Alumina Bricks, Continuous Casting, Slide Gate Refractories,
Castables and Precast blocks Basic, Silica high alumina Ramming Mases/Mortars. OCL's
Refractory division is the first Indian refractory manufacturer to have secured the coveted ISO
9001 certification for all its refractory products. Globally OCL is amongst the few select
producers of coke oven silica bricks. Over years OCL has collaborated with other world leaders
in the respective fields and secured a place of pride for itself.
The company changed its name from Orissa Cement Ltd to OCL India Limited w.e.f.
15.01.1996 to reflect its multifarious activities.
During the year 2002 OCL set up its Sponge Iron unit at Rajgangpur State of Odisha,
with an installed capacity of 1, 20,000 MT P.A and later on developed Steel making facility by
installing 3 sets of Induction Furnaces each of 250 MT/ day capacity and Steel Billet Casting
Machine as a forward integration activity for the Sponge Iron plant & Pig Iron plant.
In the year 2007 the Hon’ble High Courts of Odisha and Guahati have approved the
Scheme of Arrangement involving demerger of Steel Undertaking of the Company with OCL
Iron and Steel Limited and Real Estate Undertaking of the Company with Landmark Property
Development Company Limited (formerly “Konark Minerals Limited) and merger with Dalmia
Cement (Meghalaya) Limited.
OCL's Cement Plant is one of the most modern dry process cement plants in India.
‘Konark’ brand cement manufactured by OCL is the market leader in the State of Odisha and has
emerged as a brand synonym of premium quality cement. Presently its installed capacity for the
factories located at Rajgangpur Cement Works & Kapilas Cement Works is 5.35 Million Tonne
OCL’s Refractory plant is situated at Rajgangpur with a total installed capacity of 106400
MT per annum to produce the various types of refractories.
Presently the equity shares of the Company having face value of Rs.2/-each are listed on
National Stock Exchange Limited and Bombay Stock Exchange Limited.
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OCL holds 92 patents in India and abroad for refractory
products and processes and products developed through
OCL's own R&D efforts are noted for their excellent quality
Cement Division is constantly improving product quality,
developing better grades and enhancing customer experience.
OCL was one of the first to develop & produce Slag Blended
cement, utilizing Steel Plant waste for High Strength Cement &
IRST-40 Cement for Railway Sleepers. Its other innovative
range includes SRPC (Sulphate Resistant Portland Cement), Oil
Well Cement and Masonry Cement.
OCL is reckoned to be in the big league of reputed refractory
suppliers in the world market. OCL Refractories has been used
in the largest steel plants & other non-ferrous plants in Canada,
USA, Brazil, UK, Sweden, Netherlands, Hungary, Spain, Italy,
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Turkey, Japan, South Korea, China, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, Egypt, Kenya, South
Africa, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar, Iran, UAE, Kuwait, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka & many
OCL was of the first to initiate exporting Cement from Eastern Region to countries like Bangladesh &
In its 60 years of untiring service to Nation, OCL has always
given priority to community development. In its endeavour to
uplift the conditions of poor and hapless tribals of this locality,
OCL has undertaken various developmental activities in
peripheral areas of its plant at Rajgangpur and Captive Mines
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The Construction of Consent
How was neoliberalization accomplished, and by whom? The answer in countries such as
Chile and Argentina in the 1970s was as simple as it was swift, brutal, and sure: a military
coup backed by the traditional upper classes (as well as by the US government), followed by
the fierce repression of all solidarities created within the labour and urban social movements
which had so threatened their power. But the neoliberal revolution usually attributed to
Thatcher and Reagan after 1979 had to be accomplished by democratic means. For a shift of
this magnitude to occur required the prior construction of political consent across a
sufficiently large spectrum of the population to win elections. What Gramsci calls ‘common
sense’ (defined as ‘the sense held in common’) typically grounds consent. Common sense is
constructed out of longstanding practices of cultural socialization often rooted deep in
regional or national traditions.
Cultural and traditional values (such as belief in God and country or views on the
position of women in society) and fears (of communists, immigrants, strangers, or ‘others’)
can be mobilized to mask other realities. Political slogans can be invoked that mask specific
strategies beneath vague rhetorical devices. The word ‘freedom’ resonates so widely within
the common-sense understanding of Americans that it becomes ‘a button that elites can
press to open the door to the masses’ to justify almost anything16.
Thus could Bush
retrospectively justify the Iraq war. Gramsci therefore concluded that political questions
become ‘insoluble’ when ‘disguised as cultural ones’17.
So how, then, was sufficient popular consent generated to legitimize the neoliberal
turn? The channels through which this was done were diverse. Powerful ideological
influences circulated through the corporations, the media, and the numerous institutions
that constitute civil society—such as the universities, schools, churches, and professional
associations. The ‘long march’ of neoliberal ideas through these institutions that Hayek had
J. Rapley, Globalization and Inequality: Neoliberalism’s Downward Spiral (Boulder, Col.: Lynne
Reiner, 2004), 55.
A. Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks, trans. Q. Hoare and G. Nowell Smith (London:
Lawrence & Wishart, 1971), 321–43.(page 149)
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envisaged back in 1947, the organization of think-tanks (with corporate backing and
funding), the capture of certain segments of the media, and the conversion of many
intellectuals to neoliberal ways of thinking, created a climate of opinion in support of
neoliberalism as the exclusive guarantor of freedom. These movements were later
consolidated through the capture of political parties and, ultimately, state power.
Appeals to traditions and cultural values bulked large in all of this. An open project
around the restoration of economic power to a small elite would probably not gain much
popular support. But a programmatic attempt to advance the cause of individual freedoms
could appeal to a mass base and so disguise the drive to restore class power. Furthermore,
once the state apparatus made the neoliberal turn it could use its powers of persuasion, cooptation, bribery, and threat to maintain the climate of consent necessary to perpetuate its
power. This was Thatcher’s and Reagan’s particular forte, as we shall see.
How, then, did neoliberalism negotiate the turn to so comprehensively displace
embedded liberalism? In some instances, the answer largely lies in the use of force (either
military, as in Chile, or financial, as through the operations of the IMF in Mozambique or the
Philippines). Coercion can produce a fatalistic, even abject, acceptance of the idea that there
was and is, as Margaret Thatcher kept insisting, ‘no alternative’. The active construction of
consent has also varied from place to place. Furthermore, as numerous oppositional
movements attest, consent has often wilted or failed in different places. But we must look
beyond these infinitely varied ideological and cultural mechanisms—no matter how
important they are—to the qualities of everyday experience in order to better identify the
material grounding for the construction of consent. And it is at that level—through the
experience of daily life under capitalism in the 1970s—that we begin to see how
neoliberalism penetrated ‘common-sense’ understandings. The effect in many parts of the
world has increasingly been to see it as a necessary, even wholly ‘natural’, way for the social
order to be regulated.
Values of individual freedom and social justice are not, however, necessarily
compatible. Pursuit of social justice presupposes social solidarities and a willingness to
submerge individual wants, needs, and desires in the cause of some more general struggle
for, say, social equality or environmental justice. The objectives of social justice and
individual freedom were uneasily fused in the movement of ’68. The tension was most
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evident in the fraught relationship between the traditional left (organized labour and
political parties espousing social solidarities) and the student movement desirous of
individual liberties. The suspicion and hostility that separated these two fractions in France
(e.g. the Communist Party and the student movement) during the events of 1968 is a case in
point. While it is not impossible to bridge such differences, it is not hard to see how a wedge
might be driven between them. Neoliberal rhetoric, with its foundational emphasis upon
individual freedoms, has the power to split off libertarianism, identity politics,
multiculturalism, and eventually narcissistic consumerism from the social forces ranged in
pursuit of social justice through the conquest of state power. It has long proved extremely
difficult within the US left, for example, to forge the collective discipline required for
political action to achieve social justice without offending the desire of political actors for
individual freedom and for full recognition and expression of particular identities.
Neoliberalism did not create these distinctions, but it could easily exploit, if not foment,
By capturing ideals of individual freedom and turning them against the
interventionist and regulatory practices of the state, capitalist class interests could hope to
protect and even restore their position. Neoliberalism was well suited to this ideological
task. But it had to be backed up by a practical strategy that emphasized the liberty of
consumer choice, not only with respect to particular products but also with respect to
lifestyles, modes of expression, and a wide range of cultural practices. Neoliberalization
required both politically and economically the construction of a neoliberal market-based
populist culture of differentiated consumerism and individual libertarianism. As such it
proved more than a little compatible with that cultural impulse called ‘postmodernism’
which had long been lurking in the wings but could now emerge full-blown as both a
cultural and an intellectual dominant. This was the challenge that corporations and class
elites set out to finesse in the 1980s.
None of this was very clear at the time. Left movements failed to recognize or
confront, let alone transcend, the inherent tension between the quest for individual freedoms
and social justice. But the intuitive sense of the problem was, Harvey suspects, clear enough
to many in the upper class, even to those who had never read Hayek or even heard of
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Consent to Neoliberal Economy: India and West Bengal
“Common-sense” was remade, wherein the terminology of the market was
“normalised” in combination with the disciplinary themes of order– a package that formed
the everyday conception of what constituted the ‘national identity’. From the point of view
of naturalising workplace discourses of efficiency this neo-liberal hegemonic project
constructed a popular morality. This was the development of a ‘practical materialideological force’ that has a language, which maps out social reality clearly and
unambiguously (Stuart Hall 1988: 143). Highlighting the inherent morality of efficiency and
flexibility the message for workers was suffused with their common issues and problems.
The wisdom of the nation was entwined in notions of efficiency in the workplace; to reject
this would be amoral. Many of our informants deployed similar moral discourses of hard
work in the service of the nation that have resonances with earlier narratives of anti-colonial
nationalism. According to Branislav Gosovic (2000: 447, 448), a type of global intellectual
hegemony (GIH) has become one of the major characteristics of neo-liberal globalisation of
This hegemony is perpetuated through the frequent use of particular
terminology and clichés that legitimise this paradigm, imbuing it with positive qualities. In
the language of GIH, neo liberal globalisation is packaged as new, modern, scientific, results
orientated and inevitable. Any questioning of this paradigm is dismissed as old fashioned.
Public institutions are represented negatively and as inefficient in contrast to private
institutions (Gosovic 2000:450, 453). He adds further (2000: 452) that individuals, particularly
those who are in the service of governments, may have their own reasons for not speaking
out against neo liberalism, including their desire to keep their job and obtain promotions.
Bourdieu (1998) discusses the insecurities that have become normative under the paradigm
of globalisation as playing a significant role in the institutionalisation, and thus the adoption
of particular market discourses into the language and actions of workers. The growing
unemployment and casualisation of the workforce has shaped the actions and responses of
many workers, breaking down any form of resistance, and more often than not, setting
worker against worker. In light of these market articulations, and indeed out of fear,
workers strive to become the most efficient, flexible and productive worker in an
organisation. These forces affect everyone whether employed or not, ‘the awareness of it
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never goes away: it is present at every moment in everyone’s mind’ (1998: 82). People living
under globalisation constantly feel that they are replaceable; as a result there is a definite
sense that people come to regard work as a privilege, ‘a fragile threatened privilege’
(Bourdieu, 1998: 82), and, most certainly not a right. Fear of retrenchment (reduction of
expenditure) was certainly ever present among some of our respondents. However, what
struck us most was the growing prominence of a political rationality that is geared towards
delivering an increased call for personal responsibility. Here the strategy of replacing oldfashioned regulatory techniques with techniques of self-regulation conceived by
Foucauldian scholars18 may be relevant. Moreover, as Beck (2001) suggests, the ideal
individual worker will take responsibility for their part in the creation of an efficient and
responsible enterprise. The “price” of individuality means taking personal responsibility for
any failure or misfortune. The benefit being that individuals can now feel a sense of control
in that they are ‘not passive reflections of circumstances but active shapers of their own
lives, within varying degrees of limitation’ (Beck, 2001: 167)
Technocratic solutions have a degree of appeal among our respondents due to their
familiarity with the modernising discourses of rational planning characteristic of
developmentalism in post-colonial states, regardless of political ideologies. Therefore the
Left Front’s pragmatic embrace of market solutions, which are now being reconfigured as
‘rational’ progress towards better developmental outcomes, appears to our respondents, as
being part of a continuum, not a radical departure.
Throughout the 1990’s the International Monetary Fund (IMF) derived structural
adjustment programs were implemented in India. In July 1991 the New Economic Policy
(NEP) was formulated. West Bengal developed its own NEP in 1994. In a dramatic reversal
of protecting domestic industrial capital, the current economic reforms aim at liberalizing
the economy from various bureaucratic regulations and controls that are said to have stifled
growth3. Making the economy more efficient through increased market orientation is the
major goal of the reforms. The central strategy is to secure a greater share of the global
Neo liberalism had led to a model of rational economic action which functions to legitimise and reduce
governmental regulation. The government itself becomes a sort of enterprise whose position is to universalise
competition and create market shaped systems of action. Neo-liberalism does not locate the rational principle for
regulating and diminishing the interference of government in a natural freedom. It instead places it in the context
of an artificially arranged liberty that is with the economic rational individual in the form of entrepreneurial and
competitive behaviour (Lenke 2001:200).
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market in industry, trade and services through increased productivity. This is in marked
contrast to the post independence developmental strategy of self-reliant economic growth
and the rhetoric of ‘socialism’.
The new market oriented state ideology and economic reforms are confusing to
many people. This was particularly the case in West Bengal, which has been ruled by a
coalition of left political parties since 1977, dominated by the Communist Party of India, CPI
(M). Initially opposed to market reforms in its rhetoric, the Left-Front government has now
become vociferous in its attempt to attract foreign transnational corporations into the state.
The Left Front’s position is central to our analytical concerns. The pro and anti-liberalisation
narratives can co-exist in India because coalitions of advocates have been built by the
sequencing and timing the reforms in such a way that acceptable reforms have been
instituted quickly, while difficult elements have been instituted in a piecemeal fashion, so
that resistance has been minimised (Jenkins, 1999). One of the ways that this has been
achieved is through the particular nature of Indian federalism, where state governments
have had to be supportive of the reforms (Saez, 2002) as the ‘second generation’ reforms
have shifted the burden for attracting investment to the states (Pedersen, 2000). The Left
Front has faced enormous difficulties in reconciling its electoral loyalties, ideology and the
perceived necessities in an era of liberalisation. The growing schism between its ideological
predilections and the reality of its economic problems has resulted in two different
criticisms. Those favouring the continuity of state intervention assert that the indiscriminate
entry of imports leads to deindustrialisation and the loss of agricultural markets. They argue
that the opening up of areas of national interest to competition cripples much of the progress
that has been achieved in the rural areas. Others critics such as Chakrabarti and Cullenberg
(2003, 235-244) argue that the defence of the pre-reform Indian economy - particularly state
enterprises in the name of self-sufficiency and freedom from foreign interference - is
indefensible from a Marxist perspective and dismiss the position of state enterprisers as the
political space of effecting change to “socialism.” However, such an abstract and sterile
debate between the advocates of ‘market socialism4’ and ‘correct’ Marxist analysis misses
the very important point of what aspects of state intervention in development might mean
to people as a vehicle for achieving equality and social justice. The deleterious effects of
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liberalisation policies not withstanding, anthropologists show the importance of nuanced
responses to policies at the local level (Winslow, 1995; Hackenberg, 1999).
The Problem of Land Acquisition in India
Land acquisition has become the most vexing problem for policy makers in India.
Names like Singur, Nandigram, Kalinganagar, Jaitapur and Bhatta Parsaul have entered our
lexicon as poignant metaphors of social conflict. The Left Front, which built a remarkable
political hegemony in West Bengal largely on the basis of Operation Barga and land reforms,
has been brought to its knees after a botched attempt at wresting a thousand acres for a car
factory, illustrating how land issues have a seismic potential in our political landscape. The
post-liberalisation economic boom continues to create a voracious appetite for space to meet
the demands of industrialisation, infrastructure building, urban expansion and resource
extraction. Finding a way to balance the needs of economic growth, equitable distribution
and human rights, rescuing these complex and sometimes conflicting objectives from the
demagoguery of single issue advocates (Bardhan (2011)) and political opportunists, is
perhaps the greatest challenge facing our democracy.
The importance of the Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation & Resettlement Bill
(LARR, 2011) recently tabled in Parliament cannot, therefore, be overstated. The Bill closely
follows the recommendations of the Working Group of the National Advisory Council
(NAC, 2011), though it differs on some key points. The salient features of the proposed
legislation are as follows. It significantly increases the minimum compensation payable, but
continues to use the market price, obtained from recently registered sale deeds from the
region, as a yardstick. The minimum compensation has been fixed at four times the market
price in rural areas and twice the market price in urban areas. LARR, 2011, which is a
comprehensive Bill on land acquisition as well as rehabilitation & resettlement (R&R),
subjects all eminent domain acquisitions as well private purchases of over 100 acres in rural
areas and 50 acres in urban areas to a mandatory R&R package, with a host of benefits both
for affected landowners as well as livelihood losers. These benefits include annuities,
transportation allowance, land for land, a portion of capital gains from resale, and the
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construction of alternative housing and communal amenities in the event of loss of
homestead. In addition to defining compensation parameters, the proposed law also places
stringent restrictions on the exercise of eminent domain, placing restrictions on the use of
multi-cropped land and tightening the definition of ‘public purpose’. Procedural safeguards
have also been introduced, including social impact assessment, adequate notification and
consent of at least 80% of the affected community.
The overwhelming question that lies at the centre of the land acquisition issue is the
following: how should be landowners compensated when the state seizes private land for
development projects? This should be viewed as a general question - we should search for a
mechanism or formula that will yield satisfactory results when applied to any particular
case, rather than try to find answers on a case by case basis. One too often hears glib
criticism that the government’s compensation package in Singur or Noida or Kalinganagar
was ‘not enough’, without a clear statement of a general principle as to how much is
‘enough’. Surely the answer would depend on local conditions like soil fertility, access to
irrigation, cost of living, alternative employment opportunities and so on, and there cannot
be a magic number that will work for every region of the country. The useful question to ask
is not what the displaced farmers should have received here or there but how this amount
should be determined.
The Land Acquisition Act of 1894 lays down such a principle – compensation should
be equal to the local market price for land. More specifically, the law says that it should be
the average price of all land transactions completed in the area in the previous three years.
This is viewed by many as inadequate compensation, but a compelling reason is rarely
articulated. Attempts to remedy the perceived shortfall usually involve slapping an ad hoc
mark-up on the market price, and this is the approach adopted in the NAC’s
recommendations and incorporated in LARR, 2011. Our view is that the use of historical
market price even for benchmarking purposes should be abandoned altogether.
Some problems with the market price are easy to see. In many regions, transactions
are few and not well documented, leaving considerable room for officials to manipulate the
figure by use of selective sampling or fake transactions. Distress sales constitute a bulk of the
transactions, and the full value is often concealed to escape stamp duty. Furthermore, any
industrial or development project will cause significant appreciation of real estate prices,
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making it impossible for displaced farmers to buy back land with compensation money if
they so wished.
These are, however, secondary concerns. The use of market price for voluntary
transactions as a proxy for owners’ value in forced acquisitions is so fundamentally flawed
that it is a surprise it has been taken seriously at all. The value of a piece of land to its owner
is not some tangible attribute that can be objectively measured by experts but rather a
subjective quantity – it is whatever the owner deems it to be. Moreover, there is going to be
substantial heterogeneity among owners in the valuation of land. Heterogeneity would arise
even if we were to think of land value being derived from the flow of crop output alone,
because farmers differ in their endowments of skill, knowledge, capital, farming assets like
bullocks or tractors, market access, access to alternative methods of earning a livelihood etc.
There are, in addition, many other potential sources of value for land – collateral for loans,
assured source of employment for family labour, insurance against food price fluctuations
via self-consumption and even social prestige associated with land ownership. Different
owners are likely to impute these values very differently. For example, small farmers will
have more pressing credit and collateral needs compared to large and affluent landowners,
absentee landlords will have lower valuation than resident owners since they do not derive
self-employment or self-consumption benefits from the land, and so on.
A market transaction arises when the owner of an asset meets another person who
values the asset more than the owner, and together they negotiate a price which is
somewhere in between their respective valuations. In a perfect asset market, all current
owners should value the asset more than the prevailing market price because otherwise, it
would be better for them to sell rather than hold on to their land. If their assets are now
forcibly seized, it is clear that the market price, far from being a good estimate of their
valuation, will actually be a lower bound on it. A lot has been written about the corruption
and venality of the process, the subversion of property rights by a nexus of greedy
capitalists and their political cronies, or the coercive tendencies of a neo-liberal economic
regime. The fact of the matter is that the current legal formula for compensation is seriously
flawed and would be reason enough for disaffection even if it were assiduously
implemented by honest bureaucrats and politicians.
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Under the erstwhile “license permit raj”, business‐location decisions were effectively
taken by central planners in New Delhi. With the abolition of this system, private businesses
have been freed to seek locations offering the best returns. Consequently, state governments
have become crucial facilitating agents of Greenfield projects of private businesses, whose
primary objective is private wealth maximization. Industrialists must go to state government
agencies for water and electricity connections, land permits, and so on. To attract private
investments, the states compete with each other resulting in a proliferation of tax‐incentive
schemes and promises for speedy administrative procedures, quicker expedition of land
acquisitions for industrial projects, etc. (Jenkins, 1998: 196)
“investment‐facilitation services”, leaders of state governments had suddenly found their
rent seeking potential increase enormously.
A noteworthy process is to derive illegal
income by manipulation of land acquisition process for private sector industrial and
infrastructure projects. Jenkins (1998: 196) has nicely documented this:
The standard practice by which politicians used to benefit from land transactions is to use the
state’s official acquisition procedures, which commonly involve a tribunal consisting of MLAs
elected from the region, local politicians, and district bureaucrats. The tribunal offers landowners
either nominal compensation, or if politicians are worried about electoral implications in that
constituency, prices near to the market rate, with a “commission” then going to one or more local
politicians and bureaucrats. One particularly egregious example is Reliance Petroleum’s use of
“dubious means and underhanded tactics”, with the alleged help of political patrons, to acquire
4,000 acres of land in Gujarat for a refinery project (Indian Express, 8 October 1993).
For the new projects of large corporate, the capital cost of land works out to be a small
proportion of the gross value of fixed assets (1.8% in 2003 for large cap stocks listed on
Bombay Stock Exchange). However, in the last five years , capital cost of land has shown a
marginal increase and risen to about 2.9% of gross fixed asset value by 2008 (Hindu Business
Line, 29 September 2008). Yet we observe that the mindset of managers inside the old
conglomerates still carries the ‘license raj’ period hangover affect. Some old world
companies still see land as one more commodity to be purchased without due recognition to
its social, ethical and emotional value to land owners. We draw this inference as we often
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observed the same corporate get entangled in community protests that often turn violent
during land acquisition process.
The recent problems of large corporates not able to acquire social consent such as
Mittal and Vedanta in Orissa, Tata in West Bengal are but some of the examples that
indicate, all is not well with land acquisitions by private business. Often, private business
look at land acquisition process purely from the objective function of self gains compared to
what will happen to the locals and other stakeholders. In other words, social costs are
externalized. There is an implicit assumption therein that what is good for their industrial
project, say, a piece of fertile land with good infrastructure support is also good for the
nation and state, is also good for the locals, and is also good for the other players in the
Hence, such a corporate, in connivance of the state, is more likely to bulldoze other
views and initiate the process of land acquisitions. Such erroneous assumptions and strong
arm tactics only fuel equally violent protests from the affected communities, who get
punished or sometimes get killed. It is like; we are okay with a few people suffering or
getting killed in Nandigram or Kalinganagar for the larger good of the society.
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Successful land acquisition model
As shown in figure 1, the successful land acquisitions have four stages. In the first stage, the
private business after a few discussions signs a formal memorandum of agreement with the
state government. In the second, the business directly initiates a dialogue with the key local
stakeholders, especially the land owners. The state government plays a facilitators role and
only to the extent needed. The bipartite discussions result in the private business
appreciating the local issues and concerns and also a signalling of a long‐term relationship
with them. The involvement of middlemen and other parties (usually rent seeking agents /
parties including NGOs) are kept to the essential minimal. Care is also taken to not give any
false signals or threatening signals through media or other sources to the locals. A few
concessions and a conciliatory stance from both the parties result in the project going to the
stage three wherein all the paperwork and clearances are obtained. This lays foundation for
stage four, where successful project implementation is achieved. Box 1 gives an example of a
successful land acquisition model adopted by OP Jindal group
We reached Salboni after the above land acquisition was over, being branded as successful,
which we contend to be a dominant perception, only representing the judgments of
industrial interests, not the experience of the numerous dispossessed. From the critical
ethnographic perspective we voice the dispossessed and the interpretive and reflexive
efforts reconstitute the whole story.
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Villages around Jindal Steel Works
n the race of the ‘isms’, 13 villages of West Midnapore are steeled into sorrow, in
providing material support for the heavy steel industries like Jindal Steel Works by
making the innocent ignorant tenants risk their lives which is their land with false
hopes of prosperity. Meandering through Kulfeni, Jambedia, Asnasuli, Shrikrishnapur,
Ramraidih, Natundih, Baskopna, Ghagrasol, Shalgeria, Pathorchati, Chandankath,
Bandhughutu, Kasijora are several concrete ways cut through the villagers heart toiled
farm lands and the un-coiled natural beauty of the forests surrounding them.
The concerned area lies under the Jhargram Block of the Jhargram Sub-division in Paschim
Medinipur. The public administration is taken care of Salboni Police station which is only
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5Km’s from the ‘Farm road’ bus stand. The villages fall under the Salboni Panchayat Samity
and the linked post office is the Salboni PO.
The land here has been average in contributing to agricultural purpose. There lies a clear
depiction of agriculturally unfruitful land from the faces smeared with this question in
particular. This area is also known as ‘Rahr’ due to the scanty rainfall which results in
Figure 2 Map showing the Acquired area by JSW project and how the villages are scattered around the perifery
of the project. and also in extreem left National highway can be seen which is their connection with outside
Each village has respective primary schools, some still fringing in bricks and the rest
complete but with hollowness poked in from room to room. The existence of three
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prominent high schools, namely Dhannyasol High School, Godapiyasal M.G.M high school
for boys and Charubala girl’s high school were noted in chit chat conversations with
villagers residing close and near to the highway. The schools are 5-7 Km’s away from the
villages. Higher Institutions include the Midnapore College, Gope College and Vidyasgar
University Campus which can be reached by availing a bus from ‘farm road’.
The area is flanked by Godapiasal Primary Health Centre (1.5 Km’s away from farm road
towards Godapiasal), the Salboni Rural Hospital (5 Km from farm road) and the Midnapore
Medical College and Hospital.
However, embedded in the current scenario the people are enjoying health check along with
primary treatment from the JSW health camp stationed at Jambedia.
Description of villages
Student-How long you are here?
Informant- Approx… (after thinking) 14th generation of us are here. Now…keep calculate
before ’85. Our grandparents died. Now we…think since when we are here.
Student - Hmm…too long. How many people do live in the village? And the total family
Informant- Approx near about 100-150. The family number is 18-20…
Student - What kind of surname you have.
Informant- Like-Hasda, Soren, Hemrom, Kisku, Mandi.
Student - So, what’s your occupation?
Informant - What?
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Student- Means, what is your livelihood?
Informant-Some of us farmers, some are labors. Maximally we are labors.
Student- Where do you work?
Informant-(Perhaps he misinterprets my question and says…) here in this place we don’t get
much labor cost. This is a desert region. Collecting leaves…by collecting leaves from the
forest we sew the leaves…by this we fed our family.
Informant-(Suspiciously…) No madam, how can we have these…We sow our crops, work
as labors, sometimes we go to town, and some also work in OCL.
Student- You work in OCL?
Informant-Some of us work in OCL, some work in Jindal also. But there, in Jindal the work is
still not started.
Student- So, didn’t you have the virgin land
Informant-We have land 1-2 begha per family but due
to the lack of water the lands become a fallow land.
Figure 3 Show the lands and how dry it is
due to absence of needed water to irregate
have many kind of problems like-lack of drinking it.
Even we don’t have enough drinking water. Here we
water, lack of irrigation, lack of water to feed the cows and buffalos. Generally this area is
like a desert region. But we have a lot of vacant land. This area is called Jangalmahal due to
the broad jangal here, in front of you. At the beginning of the village there is a primary
school for the children. There are 2-3 schools like that. But there is also some problem
concerning school. (I think they assuming us as a group from govt. come to survey or
anything like that…so they are very willing to tell their problems). Will you write names of
everyone according to household numbers or any other thing you will write here? (They try
to know our purpose for coming here again…)
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This village consists of more or less 850 people in total. This population is mainly comprised
of people from Napit, Kumar, Sadgope and Suri caste.
Here, there is one primary school – Jambedia Primary School. Most of the children go to
school except for a very few who indulge themselves in agricultural labour works so that
they can earn something out of it and contribute to the family. Very few are seen to be
engaged in works associated with their own lands. School kids also go outside the village
premises to seek education in high schools like namely Dhannyasol High School,
Godapiyasal M.G.M high school for boys and Charubala girl’s high school.
The villagers had ample lands for agriculture until
they sold it to the JSW project. Previously they were
happy with sesame, potato and paddy but now they
have to buy paddy from the nearby market. Lack of
rain and irrigation facility has forced them to rely on
Figure 4 a peasent cultivating land in front
seasonal crops. A number of shallows exist in the of JSW project. Previously who had land
inside the JSW.
The conversation as been presented in a narrative order with normal font (when I am
talking) and in italics (the informant is talking). In between conversations there are
|paragraphs | spaced in between vertical bars which will have 2nd and 3rd persons
narrative along with the ongoing events then while conversing.
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Tell us about the number of houses in this village and castes living in here. There are 70
houses in Kulfeni. Now, you will find Sadgop in near about 20 houses. They include Santra and
Mondol. Ummm... Then you will find Rajwar with Rai titles. They have 3 to 4 houses. The Sadgop’s
are general but the Rai’s are scheduled caste. The rest of the houses are all Chalak belonging to sub
caste Bauri. The man sketched a rough outline of Kulfeni on a paper|
Will you join us in the lunch today? Are you people hungry? We looked at each other’s face and
one of us replied “no we are full. We finished our lunch back at the camp. As a matter of fact
we didn’t notice any food stalls neither any place of that kind.” Umm...in that case food is
available but you have to place an order! It’s very near to my place.” Here! Where exactly? .. Yes,
here, the Jindal Canteen. Oh! Is it inside? No no.. Its just here.. Can you see that stair case..its just
after that !|the man’s wife came in cuddling a child in her lap, greeting him with a soft smile
and offering him a glass of water|
What’s your name? Mother: Speak out your name… The boy replied Anirban..
Mother: Anirban what? Boy: Anirban Chalak.. |This was followed by a silent laugh from the
child, his parents and also us| Do you go to school? No ..he’s very young .
……… We are four members in the family! My name is Bimal Chalak.. I am 35 years old..my wife’s
name is Kakoli Chalak..she is 30.I have two sons. The elder one is Abhijit. He is 8+. The younger one
is Anirban..He is of 4 years 3 months. He is too young to attend school[laughs]..he goes to ICDS.
Where is this ICDS ? Its here, just across the football field. ….I am a graduate. I graduated from
Panskura College. I had Bengali ( Hons).
My wife discontinued schooling..she studied below
Madhyamik. This is a typical village area. On a previous account the people of this place were devoid
of any such wishes or gain! I mean nothing big. People here are very peace loving, avoid indulging
themselves in troublesome scenarios and conflicts. Both the inter and Intra village relations were tied
and in good shape.
Now let me talk about the present scenario. Now today, people have a ray of hope and that hope is
Jindal. When Jindal group came here, I mean at the very first time, our people welcomed them with
open arms, accepting them. But speaking of the current context the people did not get what they
wanted. From here, if you look at all the nearby villages including this place(Kulfeni), like Gaighata,
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Jambedia, Chandankath, Borgeau, Arabari, Paloiboni, even if you stretch a little far..I mean within 35 km taking the road..the people were totally dependent on leaves and wood for their living.
Agriculture was not in a good shape.The leaves of the Sal trees which you might have noticed, the
ones which are used for making bidis was abundant here. But Jindal with its very advent took away 4
& half acres of land and walled it. Today, if Jindal doesn’t happen the people will turn crazy and
there will be cries all around. A farm used to exist here for near about 20 years. It used to be the
largest farm in Asia with an area of 1280 acres. Advanced or better quality seeds, grass, maize, goats,
cows and pigs were produced in the farm. The pigs from here were taken to Nadia district for meat
processing from where they got exported to foreign nations. But after that as the situation of the
government deteriorated they realized it was not possible to pay the workers of the farm since it did
not produce an amount expected even in one month. So the Government sold the land to Jindal
…[thinking deeply in a pause]it was not that they sold it[stammering],it seemed to be a handover. To
be very specific the land was given in lease. Thereafter in path of acquisition and exploring the area
finally they took 4& half acres of land which included forest lands, both private and state properties.
Now this 4 & half or 4 acres included the farm land, a very few agricultural land and a large portion
of it covered by Eucalyptus plantation. These Eucalyptus trees were highly abundant in the area
forming dense forests, from which people from every family in every village used to earn about 2050,000 Rupees each year. The people used to sell wood and this wood also acted as a source of fuel to
the villagers. So this was the source of Livelihood for the common people dwelling in the villages of the
.. . . . .
What else are you doing apart from this training? I am into business..i mean ..into supply works
in Jindal..and I also give my house in rent .. this room you see behind you, it’s for 4000 rupees and the
other one on the right is of 3000 rupees. How many rooms are there in total? We have like 8 rooms
and the rent for the rooms upstairs is low compared to these. How much does this rent amount to
finally? Umm..10,000 rupees ..the canteen charge 4,002 rupees...let me say this..My rates are a bit
high.. I have two conditions on rent. Number one, my rate will be high and number two ‘drinking is
strictly prohibited’ .. but my price is very high(laughs). Even Kolkata has lower rates compared to
mine…actually the rate of this room and that room should be 300 and 400 rupees. Then why is it so
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(rising his voice he exclaims ) ‘Industry’ !!. Exactly who are the ones who come and live here?
The people who work here, they only live here (smiles). I remember the very 1st day on this account , I
charged 1000 rupees from a JSW employee. Who built this house ? Me. But I took a wrong decision.
People usually make home after they retire but I built this house when I was 25. This was a wrong
step taken by me. Me, my wife and one son was very little to such a big house. (laughs) This was not
all right. Villagers used to question me, “what will you do with such a big house?”. I also used to have
a separate room for keeping agricultural staffs. But now I don’t need one and the thing is thing is that
I have this house near such a big industry and that matters. Because its Industry. Since, we give
rooms on rent we have a trouble keeping luggage’s of the one arriving as they spread throughout the
What is the status of women in this village? In Kolkata you will get to see rape in the morning,
rape at night, rape every time. But here our girls are safe. Here it doesn’t occur. Girls are given
respect. Here the girls are very good in academics. In her school a teacher said to my niece, “ the
marks must not be 89, no way 89, but 90.” I am damn confident she will get above 80% in her 10
boards…Madhyamik. Academically the girls are far better than boys in our home. ..Here there is a
school in Jambeda, SSK and an ICDS centre. So you had a hard life at your age going to college!
Huh? ! No. I used to live in my sister’s house. I did not study that seriously. If I would have studied
properly cutting the edge of hard life I would have definitely got a job. If somebody claims that he has
studied and is suffering now that will be a very fake kind of remark. Ask a person to keep his hands on
heart and admit that he has studied. Yes, if he does so he will definitely get a job. We used to have
morning session and I had lunch at 12. The sole reason I used to stay in a hostel was for food. Our
economic condition was very poor. My sister is a very good person. She loves me a lot. Her house was
near the Irrigation Department Bungalow meant for ‘A’ grade officers. There in my sister’s house
they used to have aristocratic taste. My sister’s mother in law also loved me a lot. You won’t find
anyone like her. She was too good. One of my niece got married to a doctor’s brother. I met her in that
occasion lately. Interestingly this doctor was show caused by our honorable chief minister due to some
reason after which he left the job. So I spend my college days in Sisters house. There were many happy
moments together. We used to go fishing in the pond…me, my brother in law ( smiles),niece used to
stay at home, sis used to cook and mother in law used to fry the fish. We used to bath in the pond and
have lunch together. |Smiling, her wife said,” he is not liking the food which I cook. And why not?
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Hahahah…he misses those days. ( everyone of us and them were laughing). And you see there is no
pond here..hahahaha..so where will he go and fish. He only gets to eat Veg now, in here.”|
Didn’t you have a knack towards sports or anything like that? No. Not towards sports. I liked
Music. Wife: “He was inclined to Loveology”…hahahahahahhahaha hahahah ( the man was laughing
loudly). Are you touch with your college friends? Yes, I am. Especially friends from my Bengali
Department in Panskura College. So weren’t there anyone from this area, I mean what we call
the ‘JangalMahal’ ?
No, I was alone from here in my department. None of my friends were from here. And I used to tell
them that I live in a Jungle (smiles) near Ahalya Bai road. This National Highway which you see
today was called Ahalya Bai road. There is a story behind this. Ahalya Bai was a ‘Baiji’ in occupation.
She had this notion that whatever she earned was through her committed sin. So one day she realized
, what to do with this wealth. She decided to throw all her wealth in river Ganga to get free from the
sins. After throwing away her entire wealth in the river she came back home and found that all she
had thrown away was restored. She thought that I had committed too many sins that led Ganga reject
my wealth. Then she made this road , now the national highway.
We are 5 brothers and one sister. On a personal account I gave 5decibal of land to JSW. My dad gave
60decibal of his land. I received a sum of 13,200 rupees only, since the price of the land was low at
that time. Then it was only 40,000 rupees/ bigha. My dad got an amount of 1 lakh 30 thousand
rupees. My dad used to work in this farm. My land was not good enough for cultivation unlike my
fathers. The price of both cultivable and non cultivable land were the same. We sold the land in the
To conclude there are hardly any trace of agricultural lands left in Kulfeni.
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The conversation as been presented in a narrative order with normal font (when I am
talking) and in italics (the informant is talking). In between conversations there are
|paragraphs | spaced in between vertical bars which will have 2nd and 3rd persons narrative
along with the ongoing events then while conversing.
There are near about 160 houses in the village which comprises of the surnames Das( 10
houses) , Sing ( 3 houses) ,Patra ( 2 houses) and the rest are Mahato.
The Das are of Vaishnab Category, the Sing’s are Bhumij and the Patra’s are weavers by
People here are very poor. Our great grandfathers arrived here when there was railway construction
project going on. They were engaged in activities like cutting the land, setting the track, etc. Maybe
they got their lands after that. There were also people working in the farm who came and settled here.
That is it. No one else new has arrived yet. It’s the same people who live here. Teachers in school have
added to the population here…
How many of you live in this house? ..umm here two of my brothers..me, my wife, my mother
and my two sons. My elder son(Subhojit Mahato) will be giving his HS exam this year and my
younger son(Abhijit Mahato) will appear for his Madhyamik exam next year.|Which school ? The
boy replied with a weepy smile on his face, “ Kachari High School in Godapiasal”. He soon left
on a bicycle. The elder sons spilled a mini conversation with us. He had a combination of
History, Philosophy, Political Science and Sanskrit in his 10+2’s .|
This little boy of mine is vey brainy but I am not sure how far can I help him with a poor economic
condition like this. He wishes to study more and more in the future. But it doesn’t matter what you
wish for…does it? Take for example I wish to get that fruit from the tree..but I don’t have the height to
get it neither the tree is mine..so I just won’t get the fruit. So don’t they have education plans in
schools ..for good students ? No, nothing like that. My boy comes 1st in class..he gets gifts from
teachers every year. He never scored below 100 in maths paper. He also tutors a student of 8 th
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standard. But what will he do in future? You need money for that. Students without a good economic
background won’t stand a chance in future.
The practice of education was very rigid when I used to be a kid. I studied till Madhyamik ..they
caught the plough in my hand. We used to depend fully on crops for our livelihood. I remember my
parents telling me “hey, you don’t have to go to school, its better you help me with the plough.” I
wish my yong boy will sit for the Joint entrance exam. But even if he qualifies or gets a good rank , we
don’t have the money to admit him in a engineering or polytechnic college…I have heard they require
a sum of 17,000 rupees minimum. He got 93% in class 9. If he scores good in his 10 boards and pass
out with star marks the head master may provide him with something……!
These are not good times. The ‘Segun trees’ (Teak trees) you see behind are our hope. The cost of 1
ft/1ft is 2,000 rupees. These wood are used in manufacturing ships and gun barrels. But when will I
get to sell the wood is unpredictable because it has just planted. They need more and more time to
|we noticed 7 Jindal working helmets stacked on the case shift of the front door|
What are those..do they belong to you all? No. (smiles) They are Helmets provided to those who
work in the Jindal Industry. They are not ours..hahahah. A lot of workers stop by my cycle repairing
shop and leave it there. Some of them forget to take back unmindfully…but they really don’t care
since they are provided with another one when they ask for it. So I have collected all that have been left
behind. I use it in rainy days..to protect my head from water while working. How much do you
earn from Cycle repairing?..it varies day to day. Like someday its 100..someday its 700 and maybe
it comes down to 10 rupees. Tire punctures are of frequent occurrence just after the advent of
Industry. Apart from that I know all works associated with bikes and cycles. Which is the market
you use..not only for buying parts but also food for family? ..things required for repairing shop
are bought from Midnapore whereas we have to depend on a local boy who comes from nearby village
to sell vegetables. Apart from this we get vegetables from our own land, fish from our own
pond..fishes like Rui, Katla Mrigel.. ! Is that your pump? Yeah, that’s mine. I bought it to water the
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paddy fields. Hasn’t there been any support from the government..what has the government
done here ? There has been nothing yet..no benefit..it will be better to say that they have made us
suffer more! Look at the path which intrudes my land of 21 decibel .
This village is mainly comprised of tribal families and near about 40 houses. People with
surnames Murmu and Soren reside here mainly.
Srikrisnapur Primary School is the base school in the village. School kids also go for
Jambedia Primary School, Sisu Shikhaniketan (I.C.D.S) , M.S.K School (5-8 class) and
Nadaria Primary School located just outside the village.
Many male individuals of this village work as helpers under Masons in Midnapore town.
They gave away their land to JSW. There are hardly any cultivable land left under their
possession. Sometimes they cultivate eggplant, chilli, gourd and spinach on abandoned
This is a tribal village mainly looking from the composition point of view. Santal’s like
Hansda and Murmu are equally distributed n number. There exists only four houses
belonging to caste people. There are 28 number of total houses in the village.
The Natundih Primary school serves important. Children are mainly engaged in needful
works of work a day life. They usually hang out in groups and spend the entire afternoon
together gossiping and chitchatting. However they seem to possess a good knowledge
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regarding the current news about conflicts and important events in cities. Some of them also
go to Godapiasal for schooling.
Most of the male members have cloth stores in Midnapore town and some works as helpers
More or less all families do possess a cultivable land here. People here have ‘Khas land’ ,
some have Patta’s and others have rayoti land. The people here cut through the jungle to get
land for cultivation.
More or less 35 families live in this village amongst which Murmu and Hembram are
common. 20-25 houses are of Mahato caste.
Kids usually opt for Ramraidih Primary School. After completing their primary education
they go for schooling in Godapiasal. The people are usually occupied with home making.
Some drive trolley vans. Kids often go for football practice.
Previously they had agricultural land and cultivated many crops like Potato, paddy and till.
But now they have hardly any cultivable land left after the advent of JSW.
This village is situated near the ‘Ankur Complex’ of JSW Project. People from many caste
like Sing, Mahato, Das, Karmakar reside here with some tribal houses belonging to the
Murmu, Tudu and Soren. There are 50 houses in the village out of which 35 are tribal.
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Baskopna primary school is present for primary education. There are three other high
schools situated outside from the village. They are “Dhannyasol high school” which is 6 km
away from the village, the Godapiyasal M.G.M high school for boys and charubala girl’s
high school are more or less 5 km away from this village.
The tribal people have more land than those belonging to castes. Among the castes, the
Sing’s possess a the most agricultural land, i.e. the rayati land while the rest possess Patta’s.
They have very few land left for cultivation after the advent of JSW.
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Villages around Orissa Cement Limited
Surrounding the area of OCL factory, there are many
acquisition. Innumerable cases of injustice are floating
in the air of these villages. Amongst these villages we
have worked in mainly 4 villages, viz
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Figure 5 Board of OCL in fornt of gate, with
it’s its full address.
Figure 6 the map of the village beauch drawn with the help of a villager. And in the right side showing the OCL.
The concerned area lies under the Jhargram Block of the Jhargram Sub-division in Paschim
Medinipur. The public administration is taken care of Salboni Police station which is only
5Km’s from the ‘Farm road’ bus stand. The villages fall under the Salboni Panchayat Samity
and the linked post office is the Salboni PO.
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The land here has been average in contributing to
agricultural purpose. There lies a clear depiction of
agriculturally unfruitful land from the faces smeared with
this question in particular. This area is also known as
‘Rahr’ due to the scanty rainfall resulting in infertile soil.
Figure 7 Agricultural land in Gobru
where potatto and paddy was being
Police Station: Salboni Police Station
Panchayet Samity: Salboni
Land Types: 100 Bigha (the owners of these lands does not cultivate in their own land by
themselves but cultivate by the “Bhag Chasis”.
Rivers around: Kasai
Jungle surrounding: Salboni forest
Each village has respective primary schools, some still fringing in bricks and the rest
complete but with hollowness poked in from room to room. There are 2 primarily popular
schools; Godapiyasal M.G.M high school for boys and Charubala girl’s high school The
schools are hardly 20 minutes walk away from the villages. Higher Institutions include the
Midnapore College, Gope College and Vidyasgar University Campus which can be reached
by availing a bus from ‘farm road’.
The area is cared and cured by Godapiasal Primary Health Centre ( 1.5 Km’s away from
farm road towards Godapiasal), the Salboni Rural Hospital ( 5 Km from farm road) and the
Midnapore Medical College and Hospital.
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However, embedded in the current scenario the people are enjoying health check along with
primary treatment from the JSW health camp stationed at Jambedia.
1. Godapiasal Primary School (15 min. Walk from Kulipara)
2. Mahatma Gandhi Memorial High School (on Kachari road)
3. Charubala Girls’ High School (30 min. Walk from Kulipara)
4. ICDS School (10-12 min walking distance)
1. Midnapore College (2 km from Kulipara)
2. Gope College (1 ½ hrs. From Kulipara)
Vidyasagar University (1 ½ hrs. From Kulipara)
1. Godapiasal Prathamik Swastha Kendra (15 min. Walk from Kulipara)
2. Midnapore Medical College & Hospital (50 min from Kulipara)
Places where the villagers enjoy some moments together as well want blessings from God to
overcome the distressing situations. These places are very sanctual to them.
Babar than: (situated at entrance of Kulipara, Pir baba is worshiped in Babar than,
irrespective of religion everyone goes there). “Bhairab Babar than” in last day of
Bengali month (Sankranti) Puja occurs. Any Brahmin of Kulipara worship in this
Durga dalan: (situated at entrance of Kulipara, during Durga puja idol is brought in
the mandir, during Durga puja everyone attend this place)
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Manasha mandir: (situated at the centre of the village, on the Manasha Dalan
important meetings are held regarding puja, Panchayet meeting regarding family
quarrels are also held there)
Only on Sun day Market sits in Godapiasal, which is only one Km. far from Kulipara. Bikes,
Cycles, Vans are used as a mode of transport.
Kachari para market sits every day in a week, which is also one Km. far from Kulipara. Bikes,
Cycles, Vans are used as a mode of transport.
Police Station: Salboni Police Station
Panchayet Samity: Salboni
Land Types: 50 -60 bigha
Rivers around: Kasai
Jungle surrounding: Salboni forest
Figure 8 showing the school that is
present in the villager which now
have classes upto standerd 8.
Places where the villagers enjoy some moments together as well want blessings from God to
overcome the distressing situations. These places are very sanctual to them.
Places where the villagers enjoy some moments together as well want blessings from God to
overcome the distressing situations. These places are very sanctual to them.
Sitala mandir: Made by Das family in Brahminpara. Goddess Sitala is worshiped
Hari mandir: Before the entrance of Daspara, Kirtan sangeet are done here.
Description of the villages
Student- For how long are you residing here?
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Informant- You may say… (After thinking with closed eyes) 9thth generation of us are here.
We are here since very long time.
Student- my my…too long. How many people do live in the village? And can you please
mention the total family no in this village….
Informant- Approx near about 160 households.
Student- What kind of surnames are prevalent in this village......
Informant- Like- Das, Santra, Mondal, Sen, Singha, Kamar, Kadma,
Banerjee, Ray, Biswas.
Student: are not there any adivashi groups?
Informant: yes, indeed there are a few, for say, Singh (Bhumij), Hansda (Santal). There is
also a Mahamedan family here in Kulipara.
VILLAGE: Kamarmuri, MOUJA: Godapiasal, BLOCK: Salboni, Police Station: Salbani,
Panchayet Samity: Salboni, Land Types: 58 Bighas, Rivers Around: Kasai River (1 Km.),
Jungle Surrounding: Salboni Forest
Student: I and my friends were taking our lunch nearly at rail line of Kamarmuri Village.
Suddenly we notice that one person is trying to communicate with us. We call him and
requested him to sit beside us. At first he was hesitated but the gradually he started talking
Informant: what are you doing here?
Student: we came here for our study from Calcutta University.
Informant: what are you studying?
Student: we study about your area, about OCL Construction and Maoism...
Informant: OCL? Maoism? (Informant was scared and trying to escape)...ok i have much
works to do now, I have to left immediately.
Student: could you tell me about OCL Construction and other information as Maoism...
Informant: oh no, no I don’t know anything about this...
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Student: please help us to know about your daily life.
Informant: ok, I will tell you as much as I could.
Student: oh, sure, thank you.
Student: How many types of land are present here?
Informant: there is generally two types of lands are present in these villages – ‘patta’, and
Total number of households – 31
Caste-Group– Das, Santra, Mandal, Sen, Sing, Singha, Kamar.
Adibashi Group – Santal (Hanshda, Hembram, Murmu),
Mouja – Salboni
BLOCK – 1
Remaining Agricultural Land – 32 Bighas
Student- For how long are you staying here?
Informant- 12thth generation of us are here. We are here since very long time.
Student- my my…too long. How many people do live in the village? And can you please
mention the total family no in this village….
Informant- Approx near about 204 households.
Student- What kind of surnames are prevalent in this village......
Informant- Like- Sadgop, Baishnava, Brahmin, Karmakar
Student: are not there any adivashi groups?
Informant: yes, indeed there are a few, for say, Hembram(Santal), Murmu (Santal).
Educational and Occupational scenario
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Student- what’s your occupation? Or livelihood?
Informant-Some of us are farmers, but the numbers are not much as maximum lands are
Danga land, some are labors. Some work as trolly drivers, or lottery ticket sellers. Maximum
of us are either labours or wood collectors..
Student- Wood collecting?? A very hard piece of cake..
Informant- we don’t get much labor cost. This is a desert region. Collecting leaves…by
collecting leaves from the forest we sew the leaves…by this we fed our family.
Student- You work in OCL?
Informant-Some of us work in OCL, some work in Jindal also.
Student: And education?
Informant: maximum of us did not get the chance to go school in young age, but we did not
let this happen to our children. We send them to schools so that they fulfil our unfulfilled
Student- what’s your occupation?
Informant-Some of us are farmers, but the numbers are not much some Maximum of us are
either labours or wood collectors..
Student- Wood collecting?? A very hard piece of cake..
Informant- we don’t get much labor cost. This is a desert region. Collecting leaves…by
collecting leaves from the forest we sew the leaves…by this we fed our family.
Student- Do you work in OCL?
Informant-Some of us work in OCL, OCL did not provide job to each and every one of us.
Student- Sorry to hear that
Student: And education?
Informant: maximum of us did not get the chance to go school in young age, but we did not
let this happen to our children. We send them to schools so that they fulfil our unfulfilled
Agricultural scenario (Kulipara and Beucncha)
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Student- So, didn’t you have the virgin land previously?
Informant- We have land 1-2 begha per family but due to the lack of water the lands become
fallow land(Danga land). Even we don’t have enough drinking water.
Student: What problems you generally face for agriculture?
Informant: Here we have many kind of problems like-lack of drinking water, lack of
irrigation, lack of water to feed the cows and buffalos. Generally this area is like a desert
region. But we have a lot of vacant land. This area is called Jangalmahal due to the broad
jangal here, in front of you.
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Contact, Deal and Agents: JSW
Informant-(Perhaps they think I ask them in this year when you guys start to go there)
before 2 month. But now the work is stopped. When the boundary of Jindal was given then
we went there. But after that slowly the rate of work fell. But there (in OCL) the work goes
on in full volume. And in here slowly the work is again trying to catch its tempo.
Me- So, do you give your virgin land for the Jindal or OCL?
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Informant-No, not from here, but from there, they give. (After asking the clarification of
‘there’ and ‘they’) there, means from Boorju, Bandhugutu. Again from Ashnasuli, Baskopna,
Ramraidihi and Notundihi-the land is taken from them for Jindal.
Me-So from this area you didn’t give the land?
Informant-No, in the plan our mouja is not included.
Me- So, among you (the whole villagers) doesn’t anyone have the land there close to the
Jindal or OCL?
Informant-No, no…we have the division of Mauja…so none of us has the land there.
In the village Jambedia CPM party member came to tell the villagers that their land fall
within the proposed land to acquired by the JSW and there is in the middle and all nearby
land were already taken (acquiring land by enclosure) If they opt out of it . Then will not be
getting any land compensation and it will be unusable for agricultural purpose. There was a
meeting, which was held with JSW at “Danga” where B.D.O, party members, JSW Officers
and villagers were present. At that meeting, B.D.O was chief.
Company arranged meeting in Kasijora N0-9 area office for fix the compensation price.
Villagers attained the meeting. Someone demanded 6lakh per acres as compensation, land
with exchange of land. But company’s decision was final. Actually company’s decision was
taken in the meeting with party members in zilla parishad. “ora 3 lakh e bolechilo amader
kothate kono sidhanto bodlaeni, oder sidhanto final sidhanto chilo zila parisad e meeting
hoechilo company r songe partyr babuder sekhane sidhato hoe asechilo bolte”(Meeting with
villagers was just a formality).
JSW started the project at Salboni in 2007. Land acquisition stared during 2008-2009. JSW 1st
approached CPM party worker about the project and acquisition of land. CPM party
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workers told the villagers that their land fell inside proposed JSW project and they have to
give the land. Those who refused to give the land were told that since their land fell within
the JSW territory they will not be able to cultivate there and if they don’t give their land now
they will not get the compensation as stated either. When the villagers heard about the JSW
then they thought it would be a huge thing. On the day of inauguration about one lakh
people had came to see the function including the then C.M Budhadeb Babu, Sajjan jindal.
The villagers thought if they give their land then JSW would provide them a job at there.
That is why they gave away their land.
The conversation has been presented in a narrative order with normal font (when I am
talking) and in italics (the informant is talking)
We are 5 brothers and one sister. On a personal account I gave 5decibal of land to JSW. My dad gave
60decibal of his land. I received a sum of 13,200 rupees only, since the price of the land was low at
that time. Then it was only 40,000 rupees/ bigha. My dad got an amount of 1 lakh 30 thousand
rupees. My dad used to work in this farm. My land was not good enough for cultivation unlike my
fathers. The price of both cultivable and non cultivable land were the same. We sold the land in the
year 2006. How did you come to know about the industry at the very first phase?
Umm..(pause) well, from the news, from the local leaders who came door to door, and most
importantly when we got to hear that the farm will close down. We were very closely associated with
the farm and hence we got the news. Why didn’t anyone complain? I mean so many people
were working and closely associated with the farm, what will happen to them? Arre ( exited)
…a better thing was on the cards. It was an Industry..a far better option for us.. “ There was cooked
vegetables beside puffed rice, now there is mutton curry in place of vegetables.” Obviously which one
will you choose! Mutton Curry and rice(smiles).
But what happened to those who were part of the farm, I mean workers, associates , did all
of them gets jobs in JSW project ? Why will they get it here? They were all government employees,
they got transferred. None lost their job. How much did your father earn as a farm employee?
Father used to get 12,000 rupees. So you were 5 brothers and 1 sister. Was this amount good
enough for you people? No, it wasn’t. Now today all our brothers have separated.
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They were been informed through existing local political party. Dipak Sarkar, district
secretary of west midnapore CPI(M) party conveyed the message that JSW will take hold of
Before inauguration of the foundation stone of JSW (2008) few meetings were arranged from
which they get the news that JSW will soon start an industrial project. For that reason they
have to give their land.
Jindal Group Started the land grabbing project 2001 in Kulfeni, Jambedia, Asnasuli,
Srikrisnapur, Ramaraydihi and Natundihi. According to Haradhan Tudu, the village people
were primarily farmers, the Jindal Group came with a dozen of hopes and promises of
employment and development. Then the villagers gradually urged to give away their
ancestral lands. The Jindal offered per Bigha to the villages who were gave their land for the
project. A decibel = 1 Bigha and 100 decibel = 1 Char. The construction work of industry
started from 2005 onwards. 250-300 labours per day were involved in the construction work
where approximately 30% were female labours. The minimum age limit for male labours
was 20-22 years. The Jindal took about 4,500 acres land, among which 500 acres were Danga
Jami or high land and the rest of the land was wasteland. No political groups were involved
during agreement between the Jindal and the villages.
(The informant’s narrative is given in italics)
We came here to know about you and your area if you tell us a few words. About us? Like?
Like, how many types of people live here, their present condition and how was the past they
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went through as we heard about land issue due to Jindal Company. All of the people of this
area gave their land to Jindal instead of money as they will form a big company for which people will
get jobs and become richer.
How was the price u all getting instead a unit of land and who fixed the price and when,
and how all you know about this matter? News blow on air but properly at first party leaders had
notified for this because they didn’t have any contact with member of Jindal Company. Later 2008 a
Meeting was held where the legal notice for land to give them, said and they gave a agreement for job
where one man of a family who gave their land to Jindal will get job from the Company in future. This
agreement to get its success took around a year [when finally people get ready for gave their land to
Jindal. From the company the price of the land fixed which more of exact value of their land were 2.5
times on that specific time.
They got the news from CPI(M) government party. (They didn’t distinguish government from
CPI(M), because CPI(M) party runs the government at that time). CPIM party arranged
meetings for the people to discuss about the proposal that their land will be taken for
Villagers agreed to give their land. Then Jindal officers entered the scenario. They picked
them up in their car for signing agreement. Company arranged good lunch for them.
Agreement was signed in Midnapore town.
(The informant’s narrative is given in italics)
How do you came to know about this land giving? As this is an era of party politicians, they
informed us, now it is TMC era, but previously it was Bam front period when they did all things
regarding land. You gave land to Jindal how was the quantity? It was about 20 decimal or 10
katha. The amount you got... Hmm.. 27 thousand when did this happen? …it was 5- 6 years
before.. hmm it was 2009.Didn’t you have any conversation with Jindal company members
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.No, just because party officials told us to give land instead of which one member from our family will
get a job in Jindal.
At first, the villagers came to know about the land acquisition from the local party members
in the year 2007. The party members told the villagers “you must give your land to jindal; you
will get lots of money for it”. They also told every family who will give their land would get a
job in JSW. There was some terms and conditions. The families who have single will , are
eligible to get the job. Only one member of the each family can get the job. They also told my
informant “you can’t imagine the money”
The villagers got the information from the then ruling party. The members of the party came
to the village and had a chat with the villagers. They said “your land will come under the
premises of Jindal Company and you have to provide the land.” They also added, “You will get lots
of money; you will never achieve this amount of money by indulging into agriculture.” They have
nothing to do because most of the villagers are illiterate and when they asked the local party
members about that they told them if they do this then it would be better for them both in
money and job guarantee. This is the reason they ended up in giving away their lands.
As they depicted, the phenomena was quite like the following; around 2006 they first got
the news of Jindal Factory. The local Party members CPI(M) came up with a notice that the
Jindal Company will come here and set up a steel factory. For their project they want to buy
the farm land and the lands around the farm. They will provide a lump some money for
those lands. After this the local party members and representatives of Jindal Company held
several meetings with the villagers in Kulfeni, Jambeda and in few places more among 36
moujas. In those meetings all contractual deals and agreements were done.
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They got the news from local CPI(M) party members. At first, the party arranged few
meetings, which were open for the people to discuss about the proposal that their land will
be taken for industrial project. The party members visited their houses in order to promote
the project by circulating some leaflets, making them aware about the benefits of an
industrial project. Political party CPI (M) was very much attached with the JSW’s land
acquisition program. They first convey the message that the JSW will take the land of the
villagers residing in Baskopna. They were fully active in this purpose. They convinced the
villagers about the land acquisition. They met the villagers and gave them a ray of hope, like
the villagers in turn would become rich persons. They also told the villagers that if they do
not give their land then either the JSW or the Govt. Will acquire their land .Then in return
they won’t get any money from JSW. The people of Baskopna told me, “At first the local party
members (CPM) came in my house and told me that the JSW want to buy my land for the industrial
purpose. For this the JSW will give me lots of money and a job in JSW”. They also told me “you can’t
imagine the amount of the money. You are not able to save this type of amount of money in your
whole life”. They also told that their will be no poverty in our village.” The JSW organized a
meeting with the villagers about the acquisition of the land. This meeting was attended by
local party members, JSW’s officers and the B.D.O of the block. The B.D.O played a major
role in convincing the villagers. He discussed about the whole matter regarding
accusation of JSW and the money they will receive for giving their land on industrial
purpose. He also briefed people about the job. There were certain terms and conditions
which included : one person of each family who will give the land and who have a single
will are eligible for getting the job. The B.D.O also ensured them that each family will get a
bathroom, which will be provided by the JSW and JSW told us that they would organize the
deep tube well for drinking. They also told me, “We thought that we would get lots of money
and a job so we can sell our land. We also thought that we plough one time in a year. In addition, the
irrigation system is not good for the agriculture. We work a lot for agriculture. Nevertheless, the
result is not too good. Therefore, we gave our land.”
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In short, they got the news from local CPI(M) party members. At first the party arranged
few meetings which were open for the people to discuss about the proposal that their land
will be taken for industrial project. The party members visited their houses in order to
promote by circulating some leaflets to aware about the benefits of an industrial project.
Contact, Deal and Agents: OCL
OCL took the path of Land acquisition differently than other capitalists who have come
before them. It followed direct purchase route and for that they took details from
government and then they earmarked the land then they individually sent notices to the
concerned people. They haven’t asked the government to allot them a land. But they did ask
the ruling party for the help and it was evident from the process that was used to get the
land. They 1st approached the ruling party and they told their whole project and then the
party told them to help them then party contacted their local leader of the places and told
them to the whole matter and asked to persuade villagers to sell the land to the OCL. Then
OCL personally contacted the concerned village panchayet with their offerings. Then the
village panchayet called for a meeting to tell the villagers about the benefit of the project
.According to the informants the first contact was done in maximum cases by the local
political party members who were the members of the Left front mainly (CPIM). At the very
beginning of the project, groups of party members came to the village and visited the houses
of the villagers whose lands were supposed to be included in the OCL construction site. So,
the Company needed to acquire the lands from them to fulfil their Ideas. In these groups
there were some who were local party members and some were from outside of the village,
means they were not seen in village before.
The party members tried to make them
understand that the project was for their own good and they will be very much benefited by
selling of their lands as maximum lands there were fallow (Danga)lands. The price was
decided by OCL. The rate they provided two lakh sixty five thousand rupees for each bigha
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of land. Maximum villagers got consented in moments viewing the dreams of a Better
On the basis of the cases collected it may be said that the poor villagers were unaware about
the value of the land that they possessed, so OCL tried to get the lands in quite cheap prices,
the trap which the villagers could not understand. There was very little emotion related to
the land as the nature of the land was not very useful to them. When they came to know that
they will be provided money for the land which was valueless to them they were just
relieved and excited to get the money. So they were not interested to check the rate of the
land, actually whatever they were getting was good for them, though they did not
understand that the amount is rather very less for future life.
Informant: We will call you ‘Tumi’ rather than ‘Apni’ (denoting closeness). We are residing
here for eighteen years. Family members are five in number.
Student: What Orissa Cement Limited (ocl) did before coming here?
Informant: We do not know
Student: How did OCL contacted with you to talk about the exchange?
Informant: My sister may know because she has given land. (called her sister)
Informant2: Who are you?? What would you do knowing these?
Student: we are from Calcutta University, we study and this is for our examination. What
was the procedure of informing villagers?
Informant2: some people of settlement who work in land related things came here in village
but they did not visit every house rather they called a meeting in which everyone went. In
the meeting, Head of Orissa Cement Limited factory was present along with Panchayet
President but no minister was present.
Student: What did they say in the meeting?
Informant2: They said in the meeting that after accomplishing the company, they would
provide jobs to one member of each family.
Student: have they given job already?
Informant2: (She answered with sorrow) “No”.
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Student: what process they took to convince you people? Because we know that anyone
would not be convinced in words of once. So what offers exactly they made for which you
Informant2: as offer they only said that they would provide us job that’s why we agreed.
Student: Did they only offer job no any money?
Informant: No no they said they would provide us proper amount of money
Student: What was the amount of money?
Informant2: 2 lakhs 65 thousands rupees / Bigha.
Techniques of Power and Persuasion: JSW
Me- Well, you said-here some of you work in the OCL and JSW…which families are
Informant-(He begins to say haphazardly…) this house, that one…my two brothers worked
there. He (Among the three people) also worked there (JSW). (Now the people who
previously worked in JSW say…) I also worked there but now I dropped out.
Me-When did you work there, means how long?
Informant-Very previously, days ago (he can’t remember, so I prompt from the very
beginning…) yes, yes, from the very beginning, when they constructed the boundaries, since
Me- How did you get informed that-there, labors are needed?
Informant-Previously we sever our labor in the surrounding area. So we assumed there
would be an opportunity. So we went there and persuaded them several times. (We ask for
further clarification about-who gave the job) There, the work was supervised under the
contractors, we persuaded them for work…
Me- But, to get the work how long you had to persuade them?
Informant-Hmm…near about 1 month…(silence)…
Me-Then how many days did you go there to work?
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Informant-Near one month…but after that I dropped out. (I ask further clarification-who
drove him out. I myself dropped out. Not the contractor. (Other two support him)
Me-How was your salary? And why did you drop out?
Informant-In that time they gave 180/- per day. I dropped out…(hesitate to say…) that time I
had some work in home…JSW is a distance away from our village…and those who went to
the work regularly, they continued but those who not…(I think for not going to the work
regularly he was drove out). Then a small number of people went in the field (JEW’s land).
So when they told you to sell your land didn’t you protest against it? I asked. “ki kore bolbo.
Na dilei ses kori dibe” (fear), no option left for them except accepting the offer of land
giving. As the situation provided they were in full confusion whether to protest against their
land or to protect their lives; as they explained they preferred life over the land at that time
and preferred to shut their mouth also. I queried have had you evident any such event that
anyone murdered cause he/she did protest? He did not want to face the question, he moved
from his place where he sit and said “oto jene ki hobe”. To support the situation I have to
elucidate my identity and the reason why I’m there. He wanted to see my institutional
identity card; when I gave it to him he rudely said place something written in Bengali how I
(informant) could understand what is written here in card. It takes a long time to convince
them and make my identity clear that I’m not from any political party or from JSW.
Suddenly then he said “ar ki boli amder kotha. Akhoner jene tatara boseche kaje. Ar
ager…ora to sob bechediache. CPM ersomoy’ee lok (JSW) dhukeche”.
The main technique was to make the villagers understand that at the first the local party
people visited to the houses of the landowners and told them the news and tried to make
them understand that the project was for them and they will be benefited by this. Some of
them felt doubt as they were not able to trust the party members. Therefore, the local party
members visited the houses for several times and persuade them and in most cases, they
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were able to do so. Some of my informants told me that the villagers were in serious doubt
of the offers which were placed in front of them. As Most of them were not well educated so
they had the fear that they might be cheated , what if the promised money was not given to
them. Therefore, to help them overcome the fear some meetings were conducted.
I was not agreeing with the proposal but I compelled. “amar to deoar icha nei kintu dite
hobe badho..”(he was threatened from CPIM party members otherwise he was desperate
enough not to give his own land )
“jindal jomi nia niache taka dia diache..party theke bole..oi paty r theke..shilpo hobe jomi
dite hobe..”(Villagers were no other alternatives except gave their land because CPIM party
members said that there was an industry build you must gave your land. There was some
fear or threat worked on their mind.)
“oi somoy party-r ja dapot chilo kichu bolar upay chilo na” (CPIM party dominated on that
area at the time of land acquisition so they don’t able to expressed their views).
“oi somoy party JAA CHILO, ar party ke bole labh nei” (He tried to explain the position of
party at that time.)
They said that they didn’t want to give land but they got pressurized for land giving. If they
denied then concerned goons even placed gun on their head for taking sign on the land
papers, this was all done secretly by people of “party”, party people worked as Jindal
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Techniques of Power and persuasion: OCL
Maximum lands accumulated here were principally Danga lands which were non farmable,
so it was not really hard for OCL to convince the poor villagers with the help of a monetary
trap. Though some tribal people possessed ‘patta’ lands which were seized by OCL but they
did not get money, as the lands were not legally their property.
The local party people hired by OCL used to convince the villagers by making them
understand that when this project gets fulfilled it will benefit them in return, as it will
provide jobs to the family members. The local party members visited the houses for several
times and persuaded them, and in most cases they were able to do so. According to some
informants OCL used to hold meetings to convince them for giving away their lands, in
those meetings they used to promise that when the factory would be done, members of the
land givers family will get job. This gave a ray of hope to the poor villagers.
Student: Do you regret for giving your lands away?
Informant: The land was not farmable, so we do not have any regret for giving away the land.
Student: What exactly were there in the land?
Informant: In the land there were some trees like ‘Akashmoni’, which generally were being stolen
because of its use as fuel.
Student: From when OCL came in view?
Informant: The Orissa Cement Limited (OCL) Company came here in view from 2010 onwards. For
the industry, ‘maximum’ people have got work.
Student: Did you get job?
Informant: I got job 4 years after giving away our land.
Student: What did you do with the money?
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Informant: we haven’t saved anything, all the money was spent with the money me and my brother
made ‘Dalan’ House.
Consent and submission: Rumours, Make belief,
Expectations and Pressures—JSW
Me-So, they took the virgin land, didn’t anyone say anything?
Informant-What can they say? They gave money to the people, a huge amount of money-1.22 lacks against per begha…
Me- But one day this money will have to finish. But if you have the land then you have a
security for a long life. So the people didn’t protest against it?
Informant-Can people understand this at first? Then our fate deciders are the-political
leaders from ruling party. They took all these. The land which would come within the map
they grabbed it. Actually they came to survey the area with computers. Through it they were
displaying that how much amount of land would be taken from that mouja. There were the
khas of our Zilla and others…
Me-Hmm…but when did they come? I mean, do you see them in our eyes?
Informant-You know, we are the labor class. At the very beginning of Jindal, one day when
we were in the forest for collecting the woods and leaves for selling, we saw in cars they
came with some instruments and began to measure the lands. In front of us they were
measuring the lands. We asked to people that what was going on…then they told us that for
the JSW these lands would be grabbed. But in this area didn’t come within the map (I think
the map means the map of the total area of the project which the officials carried with them
and sometimes showed them to convince). Then they (the officials) informed the people
that-your 3 begha…your 10 ketha virgin land you have to sale as it comes within the project.
(Among the three the most younger people says-) From here, Jindal is very nearer to us. If
you cross the forest, behind this, there is Jindal. There we had some lands to be in
possession…some also had patta lands but we didn’t…we possessed those lands. They took
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all these (it is not clear where they direct, but I think near the forest where many people
allotted some patta land…) without any money (even in the possessed land they hoped for
money). But those who have the legal authority over lands, they got the money.
Me-You didn’t have any patta lands…?
Informant-No, we didn’t. You know, since 30-35 years we had the possession over those
lands…if the previous govt. gave us any registry letter then they might have any chance. But
we didn’t…(in my face he observe some quarry…to justify himself he says) You have to
have any proof of your authority…
Informant-They also took some parts of the forest, isn’t it?
Me-Yes, they did. You see, here they also took some parts of the forest in exchange of
money… but there a problem was created…I also went to BDO office with them…
The conversation has been presented in a narrative order with normal font (when I am
talking) and in italics (the informant is talking)
Once a person from the Jindal Planning committee of the concerned area opined that:
“yeha pein koi mitti ka ghar nahin rahega( There will be no mud house in this place).” Then I said “
Sir, I just have a land and a mud house. To make a proper house I need money( trembling). Sir, but all
that I have got is only my land and no money. I am a villager , so from where will I get the money. In
reply the man promised “ There will be not a single mud house in the village.”
So we the villagers locked our hearts in this hope.
I mean so many people were working and closely associated with the farm, what will
happen to them? Arre ( exited) …a better thing was on the cards. It was an Industry..a far better
option for us.. “ There was cooked vegetables beside puffed rice, now there is mutton curry in place of
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But this is one of the largest plans in Asia where the Jindal said they are going to invest a sum of 35
crores. I remember in 2007, Sajjan Jindal came here and said “Mera pitaji ka ek sapna tha. Woh sapna
aj pura hoga( My dad once had a dream which will come true this day).”He said there will be a huge
steel plant here..umm..a 600 mega watt power plant and this will not only benefit the advancement of
Midnapore but of whole West Bengal. He also added 35,000 jobless people will be provided with jobs ,
35,000 ! Where did he say this? Sajjan Jindal himself said this to the whole mass publicly when the
plant was inaugurated. Then the Chief Minister was Budhadeb Bhattacharya. The then Chief
Minister also added this in tune with the Jindal that 35,000 people will be allotted with jobs.
The farmers knew that they have to give their lands because if adjacent lands were taken by
JSW and built their boundary then there were no other alternatives left for them to cultivate
on that land.
My informant told that he was not agreeing with the proposal of land giving to JSW but he
was compelled. “amar to deoar icha nei kintu dite hobe badho...”He was threatened from CPI(M)
party members otherwise; though he was desperate enough not to give his own land. My
informant also told me that Villagers were no other alternatives except gave their land
because CPI(M) party members said that an industry is going to be set up here and therefore
you must give your land . There was some fear or threat worked on their mind. He also
argued that the CPI(M) party dominated the area at that time of land acquisition so they
were not able to express their views. They told the villagers “jindal jomi nia niache taka dia
diache...Party theke bole..oi paty r theke..shilpo hobe jomi dite hobe..”
For convincing, the farmers to give thei r lands some left front followers
arranged meetings (more than once) in 4 -5 villages, but no harsh method was
used. The villagers were convinced by promises of the development.
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The poor villagers thought that if one of the leading industrial companies came to the
village, people would get Jobs, so their economic state can be changed. The wasteland trees
were used as fuels, but after those lands were grabbed the local poor people did not have
any other source for fuels, for these reasons.
My informant told me that at first he knew about the land acquisition from the local party
member at the year of 2007. Then the party members told us “you must give your land to
Jindal; you will get lots of money for it”. They also told every family who will give their land
would get a job in JSW. There was some terms and conditions. They were drawn towards
the some of money as advertised by the goons and officials which resulted in the handover
or selling of the land.
This village had gone through a same phase like Natundih. There in came a phase when
villagers tried to appease the officials just because the later promised jobs and money on
return of land. Things were going good until and unless the entire scenario changed with
time . The phase had gone through free appeasements from both the giver and the taker
resulting in free mind submission.
Maximum villagers realised that they had ‘danga jomi’ where no cultivation work could be
done. They got 1lakh 24,000 per bigha as compensation. At that time the market value of
those lands was 40,000-50,000 per bigha. So they sold their land. We thought our land was
also “danga jomi” some years it yields good crops but due to arid conditions some years
cultivation was not yet possible, so it was rather better to give away those lands to JSW.
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They realised that if an industry was on its way being set up then they would get jobs from
generation to generation. “Ekta kichu gore othe tahole porer por projomo gulo kaj pabe.
Erokom bhorsa amra pelam” (Someone especially from CPM party workers manipulated
them and created these hope for project). Who manipulated them? CPIM party workers
mainly had done this job. All the people of this area agreed on this project. Then land
acquisition process started.
Consent and submission: Rumours, Make belief,
Expectations and Pressures—OCL
According to various informants, there were many rumours spread before the starting of the
work of the factory, these rumours were either spread by the villagers or they were spread
by the local messengers.
Among the many rumours, there was a rumour that in their area a big industry will be
established for which their land will be taken. So, the villagers got afraid that their lands will
be taken forcefully without any payment of money. Except these there were rumours that
OCL Company will make a park in their village. But after the starting of the work they came
to identify their misconceptions.
OCL with the help of the ruling party tried to create a façade that would generate the
consent within the villagers. They told how fruitful it would be when there will be industry
in the neighbourhood, they were told that how much vacancy for work it would generate
and that will change their living standards. Hearing this, villagers constructed their dream
homes and also started living in it. The pressure was made to be seen like Pleasure;
moreover it seemed to the villagers like donating for a good cause.
Student: Did you know OCL would make such a big factory here?
Informant: No, (smiles) we thought there would be something big...maybe a park or
something like that.
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Student: (with a smile) park ey? All right so when did you came to know the reality of the
Informant: The panchayet members came to our house to inform us, they told us to
exchange our land for money....
Student: And you said yes??
Informant: (with downwards face) what else can we do.. that much amount of money is not
just a matter of joke for us..
Student: Have you saved the money?
Informant: no, all the money are spent haphazardly.
Student: Did OCL provide any jobs to your family members?
Informant: Yes..but only my younger brother...not all of us...
Experiences of Land seizure and Land Denial:
Resistance and Pain-JSW
(The following conversation has been presented in a narrative order)
That very day as we had to come to a long distance so an ambassador was allotted for our
convenience. We came to the village Patharchati at first. That was a tribal village. We
reached there around 11am. In the beginning of the village there was a primary school, after
the classes over the children were playing in the large open ground. When the white car
came there a sudden change was seen in their behavior. Many questions were in their eyes.
All the children together came close to the car but by maintaining a certain distance. Some of
the children rushed to their hut to inform their parents and the neighbor about us. However,
after some discussion among us we spread all over the village. I came to a household-where
some male members of the family were enjoying the liquor with snacks. After seeing us all
of them stopped whatever they were doing. Then as usual we had to explain them-about
our identity, from where we came, why we came to them…though they couldn’t trust to our
words totally, and the conversation was going on…
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Me -Why? This forest belongs to whom?
Informant - The forest belonged to Beneficial Committee and some belonged to our
committee-a committee was formed with 10 villages to protect the forest. They also acquired
those lands. Again we didn’t have any official documents for those lands. Then we went to
sir and said-in this way you take our lands, so how can we live our life…He said-Ok, we are
trying. The upper graded officials are trying their best to do something. Then something
passed like-these lands can’t be bought, like this…
Me -So, how could they grab the forest? Did they discuss with you about this in any
Informant -No, no…they didn’t do this themselves, they took the land of forest department.
They (not clear who) went to high court but they (Jindal) won…we heard this in the
news…ABP news and 24 Ghanta. Some educated people like you usually came here; from
them we came to know that the news was right. This kind of case also happened with the
forest. Now forest dept. says that your committee has this amount of land in the forest, they
also grabbed some of those lands. In the forest we have 60% partnership. But they took the
Me -Doesn’t your name registered in the Jindal’s record for the 60% authorship of the total
Informant-Those who had patta land their names are registered but the people whom had
acquired land they took away all the lands. There we gardening in a part they also grabbed
Me-And the trees…
Informant-They took all the estate. They constructed boundary surrounding this. After the
breaking of the boundary wall we can go there.
Me-From your village, didn’t anyone protest?
Informant-(With smile…) There are no one like that among us. What can the public say!
Everything is done through party; the leaders of party supervise everything. They come
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with the police… If anything happens to anywhere, from outside…form outside they
come…does the public has enough strength to protest?
Me-Did this happen to you, like-you go for any protest and they…
Informant-Yes, they come with the force from outside to make hindrance…they told us you
can’t create any hazard in the work…(I said in between this-as this is the govt. work) If
within the survey area your plant/trees falls here. It can’t be continued. Do you have any
official proof? If you have the proof of patta land then another matter. (The mid-age people
says) Actually, since 5 years giving of patta land is stopped. Those who surround the forest
land…we cultivated on the danga…we plant many plants like ‘podo’, but they didn’t give
us patta of those lands. From party, they didn’t give us the patta. They said to us-there are
no circular from Jilla level…from Jilla it was not clearly declared that whether the land was
the ‘khas’ of Jilla or anything else.
Me-Hmm…then there was Bamfront (CPM) govt…now you are under the surveillance of
new govt. don’t they do anything for you?
Informant-The new govt. is not yet fully mature, even it
not complete a one year and they don’t form the
Panchayat…so how can they do anything?
Me-So, they don’t say anything that-if we succeed in
the formation of Panchayat Sarkar then you can enjoy
Figure 9 non metaled road toward
pathorchati, road was surrounded by forest
Informant-No…not yet…if they will say anything then
and the trees seen the pictures are
we can get some money in exchange of those trees eucalyptus tree.
which we plant in their land.
Me-But you didn’t talk with the authority of Jindal in a group?
Informant-Hmm…if we created a group then they said to us-there will be meeting. Go there.
-Didn’t you attend those meetings?
Informant-Yes, we attended those meeting wherever it was called. (After asking the venue of
the meeting…) the meeting was held in the school of our Kashijora Anchal.
Me-Who were present in the meeting?
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Informant-There were the pradhan of Panchayat, LC number holders (I didn’t understand
what they wanted to say by LC number holders) (When I asked them about the presence of
common people in the meeting-With smile they said-) listen guys, the Jindal is established
nearby, many people are befitted through this project. In this way we fell into temptation.
But after grabbing the whole land they assured us that every household would get a
job…but still now it is just an empty vessel. Through any tricks and tactics they construct
the boundary wall surrounding the wall. In Burju, Bandhughutu…nearby 1-1/2 km…there
you can see only the l…o…n…g wall…You can’t see the ending point of the wall. The wall
continues to Baskopna…from Paluiboni after touching Jambeda to Chandankhat.
Jindal started their work in 2008 and at first the work was going on smoothly. There was
plenty of labours in the beginning but now the number is not even half of what it used to be.
The speed of building the wall enclosure kept on decreasing as time passed by. After the
completion of the wall many villagers broke through it to feed cattle’s and to collect wood
But if we look at the current scenario after Jindal arrived, there has been no progress. No work has
yet been done to bridge their presence gap. Absolutely no work has been done.
My informants told me “Do you know we used to cultivate the land once in a year and that
provided us with 6 months of grain but now since they have taken the land there is nothing
except of the wall that bares us from entering our land.”
So in my area how many boys will get a job? Ok, I don’t need a job and I don’t hold any sort of
academic career, hence I can open up a Pan shop or suppose a tea stall. But this is not possible here
today. Look at the present condition, yes, there has been a progress in agriculture. What will the son
of a farmer do? He has gone through the level of University but what will he do after that? Will he
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plough the field ? Is it possible? (gets emotional) No it is not possible. But here standing in the
present time, it is of no use to send a boy for schooling. What will he do? He might go for tutoring,
but the question is how many of them will become tutors? So ‘company’ is the only hope which will
provide a job to the people.
Even after acquiring the lands of Asnasuli village, there was some disagreement regarding
100 acres of land in that village. The villagers protested because they did not want to sell the
land to an industry for so cheap rate. But at last they were convinced, as reason of this they
said that “bujhtei to parcho jomi jodi na di sei singur er moto obostha hobe..jebhabei hok jomi ora nia
nebe..ekhn taka diche pore singur er moto hole setao jutbe na”.
The construction work was started before eight months of 2011 assembly election. Five
hundred to six hundred people worked as labor. After the assembly election the work was
slowed down gradually. Today only fifty to sixty people are working in the farm.
(The informant’s narrative is given in italics)
In the discussion we mentioned that we entered in
Jindal area through Asnasuli when they excitingly
said’ Asnasuli! There is also open field and nothing built
till now, there all people lost their land which they got from
ancestry in more quantity, the Bhumij, who always have a
great emotional attachment with their land (though another
people have too) and now they have nothing while only one
member of family will get job. If there is 2 brothers and one
sister at first the amount they got instead of their land
divided in equal for all brother and sisters and then only
Figure 10 villagers demolised the wall so
one of them gets job. If one brother gets a job then what will that they could enter the premises of jsw
where they left their cattel to feed and they
the other do? Will he wonder about or go for begging with a also bring fuel wood from there.
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pot from door to door. We are 7 brothers and 3 sisters and we get less amount of money than
what we used to get from our land.
My informant shared with me the problem regarding the JSW Wall. He said that the wall
creates disturbance and uneasiness. “We are unable to go to the forest; we are unable to graze our
cattle in the land. Therefore, we broke some portions of the wall because we need to go to the forest to
gather the dry woods for fuel. This is our secondary occupation. Now we graze our cattle in the field
of JSW through the broken part of the wall.” He also told me that sometimes the villagers think
that their agricultural land was the only means of their earning but now they are like
An informant opined that most of the villagers did not
want to give the land from their heart. He also told me
that they cultivated once in a year. He also shared me
regarding their cattle feeding. This is a big problem now
in the village and others villages also. He said that he
feels bad thinking about the condition of the cow. Where
to feed him ? Everyone gave the land besides me. Cows
Figure 11 Places where villagers wasent
have no land to be feed. My respondent told me that he been able to demolish the wall they
have put ladder in the wall to cross the
could not bring them daily because of being unwell and gaurd wall.
he usually keeps them in house premises.
JSW took the villagers land during the end of 2007. They started to make boundaries at the
begging of 2008.When the wall was being built the villagers’ reaction was different. They
saw JSW cutting all the trees in that area. Heavy rain had pored that summer. They also told
me that we could not see the sky because of the wall. This wall leaves them with pain
making them realise the big distance between the land and the land owner. It is too painful
because the land stayed 20 to 30 years with the person who gave the land for industrial
purpose. However, in present situation this land is other property. Therefore, they became
very emotional for this land acquisition.
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Experiences of Land seizure and Land Denial:
Resistance and Pain-OCL
OCL as mentioned above used direct buying method where they used government just too,
smoothly transfer the land from villagers to them. Lands were given on 99 years lease.
In some cases where some families denied giving away their ancestral lands, people were
threatened or were attempted to be convinced several times so that they say a big YES.
Some incidences of land seizures were also not rare, some lands were seized on the pretext
that the lands were ‘patta’ land as the owners could not produce legal land papers, they did
not even get a penny for their land, and they tried to complain in B.D.O office but all in vain.
Some villagers (in Kulipara and Beuncha) tried to revolt against the Company, but they
could not help themselves..
The process of transfer started 2years before the work started and it was completed in
phases. They usually used to send notices to the villagers and asked them to produce the
concerned papers showing that they were legitimate owners of the land. Usually villagers
were brought to the BLR office by cars and in batches of 50 peoples. The process of transfer
used to take whole day then they were sent by cars.
Student: How much land did you give?
Informant: I gave OCL our 70 decimal lands, but I did not get any money for that.
Student: What??(shocked) but why??
Informant: Because our land was patta land, the land was attributed in the name of Maka Murmu
(my father) who is now dead. I am not the actual legal owners of the land still now.
Student: Goodness! Have not you deposited any documents to change the ownership on
your own name?
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Informant: I have already deposited documents for making registry of the land on my name in April
2012, after which I was called to office where it was informed that my documents were sent to High
court, from where still no any report has come.
Student: This is not good... What is wrong with the system?
Informant: I was very disappointed with the system and authorities. Not only me but also 6-7
people who have given away land but did not get money some has got job but not everyone, some
examples are A. Mali (Beuncha), B. Tudu (Chuasol), N. Singh (Beuncha) etc.
Student: Aren’t they angry on OCL?
Informant: Yes indeed,(with emphasis)these people are angry on OCL, and if they don’t get the
money, they would report a diary in police stations to demand their land back
Dispossession and Loss: JSW
Me- How did the work start?
Informant-At first they surrounded the boundary with barbed wire. Actually at first they dug
soil, and then by the stones (might be they are saying about the cement blocks) the area was
surrounded. Then a kind of machine came called ‘Gayri’ (might be the machine used for
leveling the soil or machine to build the boundary by the cement blocks)…(they smiled
Me- Now, how is the work going on?
Informant -Good! There, a number of things are taken from Kolkata, those ‘Gayri’. Not only
these, they had ordered cement, sand, ‘Gayri’, ‘poles’. You know that is the matter of
company! There, they are building rooms-houses (quarters).
Me-Inside the Jindal’s boundary the rooms are built. But for whom these are constructed?
Informant-Do they live with us? For officers, (I ask not for the common people…) (one of
them smiled…) no, not for the commoners like us. With the officers some labors who come
for a long distance, also will stay there. (I asked for further clarification- ‘a long distance’
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means from where?) From Midnapur (I think they indicated to town.) (But another one
corrected him…) no their only the employees of Jindal reside. (Then one of those 3 tries to
clarify to those people…) No, I think she may want to know-you work there and other
places also…you can better understand. Other what…whether people of my age (he is in his
middle 50’s)…(other correct him…) no she asked whether there any women work or
not…(but till then I don’t ask about this). There they work with iron; there you can’t work
with hands. They have some very gigantic machine (they use this several time).
Me- So, there a less amount of labors are need?
Informant-There some labors are working; maximum works are done through vehicle
(machines). Some labors are needed to stand the poles; some are in the ‘gayri’, 10-12 labors.
Without machine it can’t be possible for a living being to go there. If he goes he will die in
Me-Well, you didn’t get any training previously for the job?
Informant-No…(then I ask whether in OCL they had to attain any training or not, they say…)
no, not in OCL. Actually there we worked as labor. When they first inaugurate the project
Jindal then they said that-from Pakistan the engineers will come. They will supervise
everything. We only will carry the loads, shift the iron stag from one place to another. But
now look-there is no job, no opportunity!
Me-But you guys can avail some special opportunity for job for having the ST card, don’t
Informant-Yes…but you have collect this…(somewhere I think they (the mid-aged persons,
but the younger boy says that they have) can’t trust me to say that they have the ST card.)
Even those who give their lands they don’t get the job. They (from Jindal) gave us notice, we
went there… (He can’t complete his words because for the interruption. By showing the
most aged person the mid-aged person named Ramesh Hembhram says) he also give his
land (the total attention shift on him…)
Me-Really you give your land! Where do you live?
Informant-(He only smiled, but the other say) In Kharisol, that’s in Burju.
Me-So, how would they come to you? Did they come to your house to buy the land?
Informant-The people whose (cultivable) lands were within the project area of Jindal, were
called in our anchal’s office, that in Kashejora. From the (ruling) party the meeting was
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called. They told me that-we will get money and job exchange of this land but now seewhere we are! They told us that there would be constructed the industry of Jindal. I can’t tell
the exact measure of land-how much hectors…they built boundary by surrounding a very
big area. You can’t finish the total boundary of barbed wire (they continuously use the term
to address the boundary) in one day by walking, in cycle…surrounding the boundary there
are path to go. (Then the old aged person says) in the meeting our Panchyat Pradhan was
The conversation has been presented in a narrative order with normal font (when I am
talking) and in italics (the informant is talking)
Now look at the situation. Nowadays, a farmer’s son reaches the level of University. You people are
also studying. Can you tell me where will you get engaged in the future after you finish your studies?
Yes there are two purposes, one is the education and the other is food..huh! Or else you have to keep
knocking the ‘company’ doors. But when there is no company where will you go and knock? Take for
example a farmer’s son today, a farmer who earns and spends the whole amount on a single day can
afford to send and help his son reach the University level. Now look, SSC exam is closed today. My
honorable Chief Minister says that 100% work has been completed. But where will today’s jobless
people go? Where? Where will we get engaged? Now there exist the two purposes i.e. education and
food and in there is only invest, no income. How many boys will they recruit?
We hope you are dwelling here for many days.. yes, since childhood(interrupting)..So we
would like to know your concept regarding land.
Now listen to what I am trying to say! If Industry happens then the question is how many families
have their land in it? specifically speaking from the perspective of ‘land’. Like us, if land is the issue,
we were far better previously. They took my land. The wall you see behind you were raised by them
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clearing out my forest. If ever you visit the industry from inside you will notice that the forests have
been cleared out, the trees have been cut down. So this forest used to be a wealth to us. I agree to the
fact that some villagers used to steal wood for their livelihood.But what will they steal today? They
will turn into dacoits and loot houses. They will snatch the 50 rupees from my pocket. When there
will be instability in the family then the person will drink liquor. People drink liquor in tension.
Drunkards drink liquor and this situation will increase the number of drunkards.
The number of trees has decreased a lot. The road you came by was decorated with trees..not only that
there were lots of trees..I will say the road looked like one decorated with trees. It was so beautiful.
There were Krisnachura, Radhachura…(both the man and his wife became emotional..their eyes
glittered when they started describing the road…the wife was mumbling out the tree names…) …
there were so many mango trees that you won’t believe . When JSW was arriving and the farm was
locking its doors the people stole and grabbed as many mangoes they can..nearly all trees were stolen.
The common people like us stole it.
|The lady brought in a family album. We were amazed to see it , 10 years ago standing in
the same place.. They pointed out the garden, the quarter, the road..oh the beautiful road
full of their memories. “Look at the trees, the mango tree, the coconut tree, the jack fruit tree. Look
here, this is the girl who is appearing for Madhyamik and the another girl is in the 9 th standard.”
“Look at the green ground, now this is inside JSW premises. They used to play a lot here.It was
beautiful. Totally. One step out from the house was beautiful like anything. Look here, Akashmoni
tree. Look at the road..trees on both sides. There were many gardens .”Meanwhile, Abhijit,
Anirban’s elder brother had arrived. He smiled at us. “Look , Abhijit is in the picture with his
cycle.” Abhijit was overjoyed at that moment. He pulled my hand and said to me, “ Come
dada , I will show you this place.” I followed him out in the open courtyard. In the scorching
Sun all that I could see was dried leaves and sticks lying here and there. A big wall infront
and parts of coiled JSW fences lying on the ground in numbers. A dried up well on my right
with a broken cycle staged in its bricks. This was the same cycle I saw in the photo earlier;
Abhijit’s cycle. The Sunlight gushed on the wall and hit me on the eyes, as if telling me not
to look at the wall deeply. Little Abhijit said in a soft but lost voice… “this is the place dada..” .
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The man said.. “ look here in this picture, there were 5 quarters , this is the water pump from where
we got water. So green, so beautiful. This will never return.”|
The rooms were very spacious. There were separate rooms for drivers and care takers. It was a very
beautiful place. And most importantly , these home were our own. Who took the snaps ? Not me. I
didn’t know that this place will turn up into something like this. Then I would have taken many
shots of the quarters, ground and the whole place more finely. I feel unhappy and hurt when I think
about this photos. Still now , when I close my eyes I see the whole album living. Whenever I close my
eyes I see the photographs floating and I still can feel it. The negatives of the photos are not in good
condition otherwise I would have framed them big on the wall. The album is a play tool for my son.
As far as damage is concerned Jindal destroyed the whole forest. So not only we are unable to collect
tree stuffs but also getting sticks for fire is out of question.
Well , this place is beautiful. Your place seems unmarked.. I mean with a kind of barrier or
wall.. is it till there ? .. “People tread past my chest”. Take a look at that path. It cuts through my
land and my body has been the treading ground of many. On a previous account Jindal came and
took away my land. Oh! How much did they take? They took near about 2 and half acres of my land.
It’s a unhappy life we live. This land they scooped away was my father’s property. He died long back.
But after we handed over the land .. I mean we are five brothers and sisters . .. we didn’t get anything
in return. They sent a cheque but there was a misconception regarding accounts .
BASKOPNA, NATUNDIH, RAMRAIDIH
At first when the villagers heard about the selling of the land they were happy. But after the
selling and when they received the money, he was not interested in thinking about any
aspect of the land. Actually, the he was not aware about the fact that how much they were
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attached with their land, which cannot be repaired by money. So when after some years a
wall was constructed around the sold lands, then for the very first time he started to feel a
connection along with the land. And this leads him in a stage of deep sorrow. Also at the
very first time he started thinking that the decision was taken in hurry, he should be had
thought about it with more time. Actually then most of the villagers became aware about the
loss. According to my some informants, The JSW did not give the full money to the villagers
who gave the land. JSW cut 50% from the original money of selling the land. The villagers
do not know about the share and the time when they will get share.
Dispossession and Loss: OCL
Dispossession and loss is felt long after they have given the land to OCL. When they have
given the land at that time they were highly motivated to that thing only. After giving away
their lands everything stopped and motivation started to fade away and then, when the
guard wall started to erupt within their own land and the whole area was scaffolded by the
guard wall, then people realized what they are going to miss what they have lost. These
lands were part of their life from which they got excluded .From here people became
panicked and feeling of loss came to their mind and then awkwardness started.
After some time the villagers also realized that the money which they received actually is
less than the proper value of the lands. Though they were not successful in the reclaiming of
the lands, but some of them tried to revolt against the company.
Another sense of loss attacked when they came to know gradually that the promises of
providing jobs were in vain, nothing more was going to happen. This thought made them
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Student: What are your feelings, seeing a wall barring your memories?
Informant: Actually the lands were of no use, but still they served other purposes..
Informant: Before the wall we used to reach the national highway within 15 minutes but now we
have to avail long route and to reach that same place now it takes 45 minutes. We don’t have any
place to feed our cattle’s .we have walk along the walls to reach the forest and to pick the fuel woods.
Those who can’t go there have to buy woods...
Student: Really sad...
The Establishment: JSW
The conversation has been presented in a narrative order with normal font (when I am
talking) and in italics (the informant is talking)
Can you elaborate this entire picture concerning the happenings of this place in a
chronological order. Yes..umm(thinks).. 2006 was when he heard rumors. 2007 was when the plant
got inaugurated. When TATA was leaving Singur all vehicles from that place came here. I mean
when ATW company was leaving Singur all vehicles from that region landed up here. The road was
built at first. We thought it is going to happen. Then came the Maoist period. This period caused a
great damage to the life of villagers here.
After the complete takeover of the land, the JSW authority first started to isolate the whole
land from other part of the village by fencing its territory with a wall. Then they started to
appoint guards and labours. Slowly the farming land was transformed into a construction
land. After this they built a new road for their goods carriage purpose. This road started
from Farm road and ended in front of the main gate of JSW. Many big trucks of JSW were
passing through this road for JSW’s construction purpose. Then they started to appoint more
labours and the construction started, which was almost two and a half years ago. In
addition, the construction is continuing. During this time, the local people had conducted
(local) and several meetings in demand of jobs at the JSW site.The local people who gave
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away their land started to create disturbance at the site by conducting notorious acts at the
main gate of the JSW or by breaking walls. However, the local administration and police
actually helped to re establish the order at the site.
The Establishment: OCL
After the complete takeover of the land the OCL authority first started to isolate the whole
land from other parts of the village by establishing a wall around the land. Then they started
to appoint guards and labours. Slowly the site from farming land was transformed into a
construction site. Then the raw materials of the construction like iron bars, cement, gravel,
stone chips, started to be delivered to the site by trucks. Then they started to appoint more
labours and the construction started, which was almost two and a half years ago. And the
construction is still continuing.
During this time the local people had attained meetings several times in demand of jobs at
the OCL site. And at one time the local people who gave away their land started to cause
disturbance at the site by conducting blockage at the main gate of the OCL or by breaking
walls which were established around the taken land. But the local administration and police
actually helped to re-establish the order at the site.
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Extra-local Political Opponents and Local Experiences
Maoists/Jangal Bahini and Shanti Rakkha
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Trauma and Memories of Fear and Humiliation:
Maoists and Harmads
(The following conversation has been presented in a narrative order)
Informant-How could you break the wall! You can’t begin the system. They sent the armed
force. (The two aged person try their best to hide the topic with their casual expression, but
the younger people said). Yes it happened…We were in that side of the wall and in the
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opposite side there were ‘Maobadi and Harmad’. Then there were such a miserable
Me-Did they reside (‘Maobadi and Harmat’) here, near the wall?
Informant-No…they didn’t reside here…’Harmads’ lived in there…(pointed to Kashijora)
and ‘Maobadi’…(suddenly when the topic comes, they hesitate too much. If the younger one
wants to tell anything the older people suppress him. At any how they try to avoid the topic
by answering into ‘yes and no’. I try to talk with that young people lonely but according to
me some hindrance work at their pick-1st time contact with them, lack of time, more
important as I am a girl coming from outside and they are not too much accustom with this
type of attitude of a girl, so I can’t do that…)
Me-Didn’t they protest this?
Informant-Actually they are…they did, but we didn’t know what they were doing. The
‘Jonogon’ (it may be the ‘Jonosadharon committee’) of our nearby village revolt, it was
suppressed forcefully… there in Bhubondanga. Then there were the ‘harmats’. I am telling
about the party, when this happened in our ‘desh’, means the 9 no. anchal. Then here was
‘khas’ jomi for the school going children, they said that-they will let 1 ekor land for the play
ground of children. Then the harmat surrounded the whole ‘danga’.
Informant-No, no…not here, in that village, in that side. I mean within the 9 No. anchal…(I
intentionally utter the name of a village-in Chandankhat? they say-)…in Bandhughutu,
Burju, Baskopna, Notundhihi, Sitanathpur they surrounded the whole area. Here with the
line (railway line) up to Jambeda.
Me -Did you see them?
Informant -Yes, yes…I myself was present there (the mid-aged person says). (I ask them
about the timing of the incident but they can’t remember the exact time) hmmm…at the time
of the construction of the boundary wall of Jindal…8-9 months.
Me-So it is not a very old incident!
Informant-No, no…they do everything through machine, through cars. Actually the children
of the club said that they would play here, so they requested for a ground. But for Jindal
they give a new ‘danga’ but that is not a very fruitful one. (I ask them about the exact
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position of the playground, they answer) it is within the ‘jangal’, in that side of the jangal. It
belongs to the village Bandhugutu.
Me-So, they shifted the playground there!
Informant-No, no, after giving the land, from Jindal a small part was built.
Me-(Now I try to focus on the topic of Mao-Harmad, so I casually ask about Bandhugutu.
‘How can I go there? They direct me the way. Then I come to my point…) so, the effect of
this problem, I mean the war between Mao-and-Harmad, didn’t come here?
Informant-No, no. Actually at the time of the problem we didn’t dare to come out from the
house at any cost. Here the ‘Maobadi’ didn’t come but sometimes the harmat came for
patrolling. (I pursue them-why did they come there, did they come to say something or…)
no no. Actually they between the ‘Maobadi and Harmat’ a severe problem continued. Then
in fear we stayed in the house, some of us also fled in fear. They didn’t go from ‘that’ road.
That would be the main line. After surveying everything they decided their path. They went
from the moram road. They didn’t say anything only watched the whole area. Through the
path of the boundary wall.
Me-Actually what was the exact cause of the problem?
Informant-(After listen to the question they pause for a time being…then the mid-aged
person tries to avoid the topic) Problem means…well, see, we are the labor class…we are
okay…they just patrolled the area. At the morning and evening we go, bring some rice and
dall, and cook ourselves and again in morning we go away.
Me-But you didn’t listen about why this was happened, why they fired guns…?
Informant-(Again they try to avoid this…) actually there in that side the problem was
created. There we don’t have any land. In this side it was not happened.
Me-Hmm…so the problem was concerning the land, isn’t it? Was the problem created for
land grabbing of Jindal or among them casually?
Informant-Hmm…concerning the land…They don’t let the path…so we have to walk a long
way to reach the forest where we plant. Then they started to break the wall. (I ask who?)
There was the straight path, now that is necessary.
Me-Was this happen from your village or other village?
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Informant-(The mid-aged person says-) no, (but the old one says-) some of us went there, but
they leave some places, and fenced some area.
Me-So, some of you also joined with them…
Informant-(The younger one agree but as usual the other 2 people suppress him. At every
time they give stress to the single point that ‘this place is very safe and secure…) No, no, not
us. Why should we go? They didn’t capture not a single ekor land form our mouja. The
people who faced the problem, they protested. The people of that side…they said to open
the road. To cross this vast distance in cycle is very difficult.
I asked them (other informants of Patharchati) did this mao & harmad conflict had any
direct relation with the land acquisition by JSW?? They referred us the village Bandughutu
where they said the both side pressure worked more intensely. And then after a pause he
continued his talk and said“kibolbu didimuni…praner jonno. Hothat ki, edikeo thela odikeo
thela.Jibon ta bachabo na jibon ta diadebo.”(Helplessness).Here he specified that the
pressure works on them all around, they had threatened for their life also. I asked whom
you refer as ‘edikeo’ and ‘odikeo’? He replied being hesitated and giving a pause “maobadi,
boner lok. Ora bole amar dike thakbena se dike jabe, bolo naholei ses.”
What do the maoist do? Maoists were fought against the CPI(M) and they murdered who
they were suspected as CPI(M) party members. Maoist did not harm the general people or
the villagers but the situation get worst at that time that even they won’t walk on the streets.
Maoists lived in that forest and his wife had seen the commander of mao. He mentioned that
Maoists were talked in hindi. Maoists visited their house to eat and went back to the forest
in dark (evening).They also visited the other houses of the village and often claimed foods
they liked. If anyone repudiating then he/she had been beaten. Another person (2nd
informant living in Patharchati) said, Maoists came very often; they mainly visit the nearest
villages from the forest to collect food and sometimes for shelter. I asked that second person
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why they came in their village (pathatchati) then. He said they came in motor bike or in
maruti (car four wheeler) for ‘checking’ us (villagers of Patharchati). What Maoists were
checking for, I asked. He (2nd informant) continued that they were checking whether we
(villagers of Patharchati) were passing any information to the harmads. When they get the
news that Maoists will came in their village most of the young members of the family were
escaped only aged persons were left in the house as they less threatened and forced than the
When we asked who these harmads were, they (my informant and two other person from
Patharchati) said “CPM er posha gunda ora”.CPI(M) party made a contemporary group
from the common publics to fought against the Maoists, known to them as harmad. CPI (M)
party members (not willing to mention the names) supplied arms to the harmads.
My informant told me that they heard that peoples are fighting with “Jangal Bahini.” They
heard sounds of the ammunitions and bombs. Harmad used to harass the villagers and they
fired the husk piles. Near about 5-husk piles were burnt in this village. They forced villagers
to go the party meetings. They used the fire weapon to threaten villagers and warned them
that if they do not as they say bad things can happen. From 2008 onwards violence had
started. He also told me that he has not seen “Jangal Bahini” but heard that they used to
come to the nearby villages to fight.
The conversation as been presented in a narrative order with normal font (when I am
talking) and in italics (the informant is talking).
Then came the Maoist period.This period caused a great damage to the life of villagers here.
Did anything happen here in this place?
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Yes it happened ( rubbing the face with his hand, in an exited mood, pops up the chair).During
Maoist period I did not have the guts to turn on light at 6 pm in the evening. I didn’t have that
courage in my heart , I didn’t have the guts to turn on the light at 6 in the eve. I was not so brave to
do so neither was any of the villagers. What exactly did they do ? What exactly did they do ?! They
came here and called us[coughs]..ok, then let me tell you about the Maoists. The Maoist planned a
mine attack on the former Chief Minister on his visit to this place. My house was closest to the
podium where our minister delivered his speech. The policemen who arrived in a van from Burdwan
district took shelter in my house. The lady police used my house for toilet purpose. Where will they go,
since everywhere you see is open land. So they all were here in my house that day. So when the Chief
Minister was departing from here, a mine was blasted which fell on the high tension line, which again
landed on Ram Vilas Paswan’s convoy! The incident took place on the bridge you noticed on way to
Midnapore. The wire connecting the mine stretched back to the railway line. The Maoist after
throwing an impact on Singur which I am sure, you people are aware of, because of the
television…turned their attention to youth in Lalgarh region to accomplish this mission. So they were
the prime suspect after the incident. But the mastermind behind this plan was an Adivasi. His wife
was pregnant. But she was totally un cautious which led to the loss of water n her womb. So one day
this man rode her wife in a bicycle to the hospital. Since the man was a prime suspect the women was
being interrogated and this led to the death of both the women and her child. Conferring this incident
the Adivasi’s formed the Police Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee. This was actually
a Anti Police protest committee which begun to conquer the villages one by one. How did they do so?
Hmm..the whole area was CPI(M)’s . Hence the people who used to do the Party were gunned down.
So if you kill a villager in this manner it results in a terror , terror in the village. At last the villagers
were forced to surrender in order to survive and get rid of this terror. In lalgarh after killing 5 people
they did not allow further rituals or ceremony associated traditions, just because five of them were
workers of CPI(M). This way they conquered villages one by starting from Lalgarh. Actually we
didn’t get this, I mean who were the ones with the protest? The Adivasis? What I meant to say
is this was a turn, an issue, an issue to get the people together, to form a mass. The Adivasis and the
Maoists joined hands in protest to this issue “Police torture “. The story which they lamented to the
common villagers was that the women was kicked by the policemen and the baby inside the womb died
due to this reason. But this not true. This can never be true. A policeman is just like any other man
and foremost he is a human being..So I think it will be never possible for a man from West Bengal to
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act such harshly or rudely to a pregnant women..it is not at all possible! Or may it is.. just don’t
know..to me it is not! The killing gradually came from there to here, village by village. The blew off
police van with blasts. Where will the villagers go? What will the villagers do for their own safety?
They surrendered to the Maoist. The CPI(M) workers amongst the villagers fled away, but where will
they go? Where will go? The people were caught and killed. Meetings were called in daylight ,
decisions pertaining to cases where taken by them and punishment was decided and given by them.
“He is a CPI(M) Cadre…he has done this and that…what will be his punishment?! Kill him”. ”.
Flowing the terror across the path, finally one village stood against them. Asnasuli. There is a place
Anaithpur from where it took centre stage. Here in Anaithpur CPI(M) stationed some of its
cadres..The ‘Harmads’ or CPM Shant bahini , whatever you may call them.There happened to be a
person “Master da” who halted in one of my friends house and used to teach how to shoot and fire.
His house was sent to flames just because he was suspected as a CPI(M) worker. Then and there the
Maoists were led by Kisenji. The strategy of the Maoist was first they will surround the remote
village, then they will ask people guilty to come out of their homes followed by beaten them up,
breaking their arms & legs or killing them. Incidents like this became of common occurrence in places
like Paloiboni and Kashijora. There was a boy with whom I carried out a Jindal Survey. That boy was
killed in December,2010. What was his fault? He reached late at the meeting because while return he
gave a lift to the MLA in his bike. The other things they did included forcefully taking money from
people, taking youth from all villages they stepped into and many others of that sort. What
happened if somebody refused to go? “ who on the earth has two heads on his shoulder?”
|The man left after a phone call, and said us to wait. He got a call from Jindal group. It had
something to do with a car infront of the JSW main gate. Anirban in a singing tone said
“give me the big bubble”. The man returned just after 4 minutes|
Yes, so slowly they started to reach here, I meant Jambedia & Kulfeni. If the people of Asnasuli did not
stand up against the doings of the Maoists then the terror of this kind would have reached Kolkata.
People from both poles killed each other. Then came the Phase of Pariborton with which came the
new Government. Industry went away [laughs slightly] and nothing effective has been reached yet.
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What was the reaction of the “Maoists” & “Harmads” in regard of the power plant being set
up here? The Maoists actually didn’t want the industry to happen here. Today you will find no
Maoists. Most the Maoist used to burry living people. A Mahato was buried alive who used to reside
in Paloiboni. His mistake was he was into wood business. The Maoists wanted him to pay them the
whole amount he received from selling the woods. And that guy also used to be a CPI(M) worker.
When he was on his way in bike a buffalo cart blocked his way. He had to stop then and there, Two
bikes came in. De seated him from his own bike and then buried him alive. A women from ICDS was
raped and buried alive in Lakhanpuri Jungle. Why did they do so? Just because they were associated
How did you came to know what happened? Umm..actually no truth in the world remains
hidden. The people engaged were all local. The villagers were in a critical condition and terror, so they
had to join them. It was like we may no them, but we don’t know them. If it was possible for us to
identify the people, then perhaps they would not have lived today. They would have been surely killed.
Today I have a friend with whom I studied in school. I will very sad for him. The boys name is
Sushanto Mahato. His grandfather was engaged in wood work and business and his father teaches in
a Primary School. He was a Maoist. And he was killed by his ingroup members because there were
conflicts within the Maoist organizations.
|Abhijit had arrived from school. His mother gave him a bubble gum, He was so happy and
painted a smile in the room. Their Maternal Grandma had bought two bubble gums, one for
Abhijit and another for Anirban|(smiling)…form the day that boy with whom I did the survey got
killed we began spending nights in the football field. It was too cold then. Talking about the Dec- Jan
of 2010. I used wear inner, lower and upper, two pairs of socks, hand gloves, windcheater and a
blanket. We had to stay in the ground because of the fear that the Maoist might come and surround
the house and burn the house. Their aim was to clear out CPI(M). There was a boy who used to take
part in Dramas and plays. Dhannosur, Sadosbedia in Asnasuli was where he was rehearsing for a
local upcoming community play. The boy had a tall stature and well built physique. His name was
‘Shiba’ , …Shibaprasad Mahato. This rehearsal was going on in an ICDS school. The school was a bit
peculiar since it didn’t have any walls. Suddenly a man came in interrupting the rehearsal and asked
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“who is Shibaprasad here?” The people went silent, all that seemed bright was the light of the bulb
hanging. No one pointed out who is Shibaprasad, but this man readily recognized Shibaprasad
himself. The man took out his gun pointed it on the boy and said, “ you are Shibaprasad.” It was 7pm
in a winter eve. Shibaprasad lowered the gun a caught the Maoist tightly in his arms. There was a fast
hustle bustle with shoulders. People there got numb. Shibaprasad pushed his back at the door from
inside holding the mans hand with the gun lowered down and locked the man with the other arm.
Shibaprasad shouted to the people present in the room ,”someone close the door fast from
inside…hurry..fast.” The Maoist man finally started shouting “help me…help me.” People who were
present outside kicked the door open…a shot got fired from the gun..the bullet went slight past the
abdomen of Shibaprasad and hit a boy’s hand who was present there. His name was Jagannath
Mahato. People fled here and there. The CPI(M) camp was very near, only 2 km away from the ICDS
school. I was in my room here. Usually we had patrolling and other duties at night with arms. Every
man had to go to the duty because if the Maoist’sorround the village and throw and attack it will be
too late. Sibaprasad fell down to the ground after the 1st shot was fired. This was followed by a 2nd shot
from the Maoist’s revolver which slightly touched the arms of the boy. He grabbed Shibaprasad’s hair
and pulled him outside. Shibaprasad was acting as if he was dead. The man fired two more bullets but
failed to hit the target. But at last the man fired a final shot which hit Shibaprasad’s right leg. The
Maoists still think that the boy was killed that day. A total of 5 shots were fired on him. All shops in
the locality will closed down with the sound of the shots. Jagannath was not a target , his injury was
accidental. He lay on the ground. Sibaprasad with the help of his elbow reached out for a cycle
crawling. He pulled up his right leg with his hands and made his way home. He came and fell at his
door, he mumbled “ take me to the hospital quickly, I will survive.” He was bleeding badly. There was
an armed men at the door & this man could not take the action fast since he was in duty at his post. A
car came and collected him from the door and rest of the people from house after house were asked “is
there anyone hit by a gunshot?” None of the villagers uttered a word. They were trembling in fear.
Not a single villager stepped outside. We rang from here and enquired “from where did the gun shots
come?” So the information we got in return was that two boys were killed and one of them is
Shibaprasad. He is dead. I was in the ground then. Sibaprasad was taken to Kolkata from Medinipur
and he survived but Jagannath Mahato died. He was admitted to the hospital. He died out of blood. He
was bleeding badly. He was taken to Salboni which did not work out and then from there he was taken
to Midnapore , but unfortunately he died on the way. Here we have a system that you will notice, the
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house is surrounded by a single boundry on all sides which makes it separate from the rest. There was
a man from Salboni , Sishuranjan Mahato . He was a branch Secretary of CPI(M). The condition was
more or less stable that time. On night, some boys playing ‘gulti’ were asked “Where does Sisuranjan
Mahato live?” He was definitely shown the house by the boys . If they didn’t that would result in
beating or something of that kind. The men with covered faces knocked on the door , Sisuranjan’s wife
opened the door. They said “ Is Sisu Da in there? “ , her wife stepped outside and noticed that the
Maoists had surrounded the whole house. She replied “ No he is not in there. He will return late.”
Sisuranjan was having his dinner in the room. The Maoist’s flanged both his kids and said his wife,”
bring Sisu to us and take back your kids.” Sisuranjan forced himself outside as soon as he heard this.
They left the kids and took away Sisuranjan. They didn’t even cross a distance of 50 m when one of
them put a pistol in Sisuranjan’s mouth and shot him dead. Dherubai , my maternal uncle’s house.
There I had a classmate whose father was A Panchayat of CPI(M) and also a high school master. Yes ,
I simply don’t reject the fact that he stole a lot..a lot. So one day a villagers in a rally kind fashion
came and destroyed their whole house. The smashed and brought the house down to dust. They had a
TATA Sumo car which was shattered to flames. This man had a brother who was just married and
had a kid. This brother was taken out and a shot was fired to his mouth in daylight very near to the
place. All these people were ones whom I knew(smile in grief). The boy with whom I went to survey
was very good looking and un married. We used to repeatedly tell him, “ Dada please marry!
Panchanan Da please marry. Let us go and look for a girl.” Now who dosent try to impress or keep in
good touch with the MLA. A jobless boy always will be there for him hoping that one day he might
find some help. So there are a numerous incidents like this. How did one recognize a person on
party basis? I mean, were you all active members? Yes, we were all active. We worked a lot. All
that happened as a result of this war is the common people lost their lives. Mostly the Adivasi’s and
people from the Mahato caste got killed. Just look at the picture of their house, the condition of their
families. The new government strove to power killing these innocent people. Today Chatradhar
Mahato is a big name. Some polished, intellectual and high profile people from Kolkata have actually
flattered him. This man Chatradhar was engaged in business with leaves. Was that a mistake ?? He
was made the leader of that Janasadharan Committee. He had an inclination or rather I will call it a
support for TMC. It is fairly possible, absolutely possible. But some intellectuals from the city, “the
buddhijibis”, flaunted him with credentials and portrayed whatever he is doing is good and he is in a
right path. So at that time the man with beard, I am not taking his name, man from arts with whom
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we are all familiar with on TV sets flattered him like anything ,but what did that result in? Today this
man is in Jail .A common man. To fulfill the desire of their own and to grasp strength these political
leaders have had enough clashes between them and this resulted in thousands of people like him
ending in jails. Look at the train incident..so pathetic. The common people were not born like this.
They were turned into someone like this by those selfish people sitting in chairs. Today by making a
revolution with their help I am in power. But this is not good( sighs ). They have a hatred for CPI(M).
Another person I knew was killed brutally by the Maoists. Two boys were killed on the same day. I
broke into tears at his funeral seeing his young wife and little son. The boys were SC/ST. He was a
member of SFI unit , Vidyasagar University. He made his line into politics from University to Youth
level. Para teaching was the occupation of this educated lad. His name was Rohit Patar and the other
boy with him..his name was umm.. Pashupati Mahato . They were called on a day regarding the “100
days work.” When they reached there, a group of man said them, “ please come with us , there is a
Actually it was a pre planned murder. The two boys were brought distant and pinged with a number
of bullets. Rohit was a very good boy, educated and was also was active in party. What exactly is the
present condition? All I can is that the Maoists exist but you will not find one neither hear of one.
Today if you take look at Kisenji’s case. “He was not caught, he surrendered to the Police”, please
note this..this is very true..you should know this. Because in my case I will leak out all we talked
about and the situation was same there. In fear of letting him get caught it was better to get him
killed. So Kisenji’s death was a murder pre planned by Sashadhar Mahato. Sashadhar Mahato was
Chatradhar Mahato’s brother. Sashadhar Mahato forced his wife Suchitra Mahato to an extra marital
affair with Kisenji. It was all part of the plan. The local people there said us, “ before leaving she
opined we will leave this man alone and take our leave as soon as we get the signal.” Is it so easy to
kill kisenji ? Wherever Kisenji went there were at least 10 barricades. Not a single sign of blood on
leaves or sign of war or struggle were found that day. Sashadhar Mahato asked Kisenji to take care of
that particular area. Suchitra Mahato’s eye brow noticed to be freshly plucked. But where did she
pluck her eye brows ? In the forest! Where? This was all part of their plan so that nobody comes to
know what they are upto! There was a good time in West Bengal to do work..when the finance
Minister, Railway Minister and the Chief Minister all were from West Bengal. Was it not possible to
do good work ? If you want the good for the people couldn’t you stage it.
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Well students from Universities of Kolkata also came here, specially Calcutta University and flattered
Chatradhar Mahato. So the once common man is behind the bars now. But that man with beard,
Mamata Banerjee and other intellectuals who flattered him should also be behind the bars.
The conversation as been presented in a narrative order with normal font (when I am
talking) and in italics (the informant is talking). In between conversations there are
|paragraphs | spaced in between vertical bars which will have 2nd and 3rd persons
narrative along with the ongoing events then while conversing.
Well going through the media we came to know about the phase of disturbance you people
were going through ..please share it with us ! Yeah. It was that time when people were really
scared but we didn’t know who were the one who will harm us! We didn’t know who were the
Maoists. They all had hidden identity. They were all students from Jadavpur University. Once I gave
a lift to one of the Maoists. It was a she. She was highly educated. She was in good shape, slightly
bulgy. Bullet chains were all over her uniform crisscrossed. I was returning home in my bike. She
waved her hand at me and I stopped. She asked for help to reach the jungle nearby then. I gave her the
lift. She said beforehand that they all were educated students and form Jadavpur University, and they
will cause no harm to him. Didn’t you get worried in fear? No. There is nothing to fear. She just
wanted a lift and helped her out . Like you all are strangers to me. I have served you water and gave
you a shed to rest in. If you want further help to reach home I can take you to the main road by
arranging a vehicle. So I help others. I have nothing to fear because I am a common man. What will a
common man fear of? Help will be always appreciated.
|A man with his head bandaged arrived. His shape was in pathetic condition. He was
limping. We introduced ourselves to fill in the vent of his curiosity about us.
He said “ I am going to take an injection today. It has been 17-18 months that I am under treatment.
Today I will do to a doctor in Bankura district. It will cost me 1,500 rupees. The worst impact of this
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terror phase was on me. I suffered the worst blow and loss(shouting). People here got mini blows
unlike me. I suffered this 2 months before ‘Poriborton’.” |
This man was beaten up badly by CPI(M) goons…the ‘Harmads’. Well who were these ‘harmads’
? .. The Harmads were sponsored food, money and other accessories by the CPI(M). This was a
protection force formed by CPI(M) leader Susanto Ghosh. The were goons of CPI(M) party hired for
their missions then. They worked under Susanto Ghosh’s order…like loot the person he asked for, kill
the person he wanted to. Very similar to the works carried out by Bobby Hakim in order of our present
chief minister Mamata Banerjee. Look at the incident that happened in Garden Reach, Kolkata. The
Harmads were the CPI(M) army , an army used for such purposes. The goons of TMC targeted the
police men and killed him. His daughter has been offered a job in Kolkata police and the rest you
know. Mamata provides 2 lakhs if you die like this, 2 lakhs if you die drinking country liquor,2 lakhs
if you get burned and die, it’s the same for her (laughs). The harmads used to move free in the village
with arms. Their move were taken care of by the party cars. They were actually afraid that the youth
or people of this generation might vote against CPI(M). Since the people now.. I mean of this
generation have become well aware of what is right and what is wrong , also with what exactly is
going on marked a kind of tension in the members of CPI(M) party here. Just to make assure that the
area is in their control they introduced the Harmads. Violence started when people here in this village
opposed them. We rejected the idea of going to their camps. Cooking for them in camps , learn the
Harmad training, etc. The result was what you just saw, that man was hit hard badly by them. The
role of police was quite a dummy kind of. They were the ruling government then and so the cops were
treated equally. One who follows them stays and one who rejects has to leave. Thos were very bad
times. If I thought of visiting that side.. I mean villages like Ramridihi, Natundinhi, etc I had to take
permission from the CPI(M). That side was totally under Maoist control and this side .. I mean places
like Asnalsuli, Kulfeni and Jambeda was under CPI(M) control. A common man had no choice. You
have to join them in their meeting and processions , or else they will beat you up badly. The villagers
had a separate protection force which was formed here in Asnasuli to get rid of this terror and protect
the village from hands of both Maoists and Harmads. The Harmads also had their face covered up.
Their main camp was near the primary school. Their was nothing spontaneous or at our will, all was
under force of a people in ruling chair. It was by force people got converted into Maoists and Harmads
in these villages.
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|The other man..the one with a bandaged head started yelling his sentiments. He said, “ Look I am a
strong man. How and why will the common people join the Harmads leaving their work a day life,
their fields , children leaving their study and play..! why? Just because I didn’t agree to their terms I
got beaten up so badly infront of that shop you will come cross at the juncture of this road. I was
beaten up with fat bamboo poles. After the ‘ Poriborton’ came in , we forced ourselves in some job or
work. From 28th January I was in hospital and from 6th February I was treated in Medical hospital. I
joined duty from 7th onwards , 7th , 8th, 9th,10th .. I was on duty. The next day was a Sunday. I have
been and still now treated with salines . injections and medicines. Medicines which I have to go and
buy myself. But look at me , I am alive and I am still working . I have caught a lot of cough and cold
and that’s one of the reasons I have bandaged my head tightly. I suffer from a lot of pain in my
head…! Who are the ones who used to be members of CPI(M) party in this village..are there
any ? Even if CPI(M) members are here , they don’t have the guts to step outside their house. If they
step outside we will hit them hard. Let them come out of their homes and I will chop their head and
spine. They are all now busy with their life and work. Some of them hold a neutral position and the
one who were in high party post still continue to be members of CPI(M). After the ‘Poriborton’ all
that we got is peace. A peace and a agreeable environment , a condition where you people can come
and talk to us like this. May this remain. But I wont give up on my revenge. I have a lot of things
going in my head. The loss has been suffered by me and I know that very well. I know which people
meant to harm me and who were the once responsible. A minimum of 22,000 rupees I washing of my
pocket and I am suffering for about 17 months. How can I rest until I get stabilized on my own
mental condition. All that I want to say is I am happy with the peace now. If some problem arise then
a counter problem will take place in the current scenario and I know how to play my part in it. We
just won’t let people die anymore. The police is working well nowadays. They come here in action
whenever they are called. Previously the problem was that , Police was totally unseen anywhere
around. All we used to see was goons of the ruling party and violence. The police where denied to take
any action by the CPI(M)party. Their action depended on the authority of the CPI(M) party. Now the
people are there for the general and common people. Then unless and until any leader of the ruling
party called upon the police they had no authority to take action. Whatever the CPI(M) party is doing
now, waving their red flags in core of Delhi, Kolkata, Writers, they will not only get a single vote
from ‘Jangal Mahal’ nor will be any of their politics encouraged here. This is what I can write and
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give it to you people. Mark my words. BJP can come in, even Congress can come in and CPI(M) can
come in holding their back. But no, CPI(M) does not stand any chance. They have nothing left to
show us. We have seen a lot, they have been washed out from here. During the previous voting phases
CPI(M) did not get the complete vote in Salboni Block. Suppose there are 900 voters, out of which
about 450 people voted for CPI(M) when they were not only in power but also won the elections. So
you see, there were a lot non supporters. And now, their condition has detoriated a lot. They have lost
the elections and don’t have any chance in the future because of their real image, the one they made us
look at. Here we have been talking about normal incidents so far. The whole Salboni block used to be
covered by the harmads. Just go 3 kms from here and you will find tears in every peoples face…tears,
and nothing else. You will find children killed, women raped, land stolen, animals stolen, houses
burned , husbands killed, some suffering like me, nothing else only shouts of cry, tears and terror.
Now, are you engaged with TMC ? No , its not like that. Engaging into politics is tough for people
like us. We don’t know how to play it. We lack time in our lives. All we do now is support TMC. That
is all a common man from the village can do residing in the system that exists here. Why not see how
a new thing works out ! Let us feel this and enjoy our hood .Now people have lost their hopes in Jindal
too. With their advent Jindal promised us with many prospects. But till now they have fulfilled none.
They promised us with model schools in every village, sources of drinking water. But we have got
none. Where did you hear this from? It was the package mentioned by the BDO to us while
discussing our job opportunities in collaboration with the upcoming industrial prospects. Many of the
villagers attended that meeting. Have you ever been to Kolkata ? Yes I have been there many
times. One of my elder brother lives there. You all must be knowing him – “Don” … umm he stays
very near that park beside the kali mandir. He is not my own brother. He is my paternal uncle’s son.
He was raised here, in this village. So, now what do you expect from Jindal? We expect jobs for
everyone. I will expect a peaceful life where I can come back to my house and rest and live happily.
One interesting point is that TMC didn’t have a single meeting organized in the block but how did
they win? CPI(M) is showing their power in Kolkata in organized meetings just to scare us. The
scenario was same here before the election but the results took a different turning point. The people
here are not afraid of them anymore. What about the Maoists, where are they now? Look to be
very frank we all know where are they now (angry expression). It’s like ‘muri’ in ‘chalbhaja’. Before
the elections what people used to eat was ‘muri’ out of the ‘chalbhaja’ packet. But now muri is what
‘chalbhaja’ is. It’s the same thing. Ok its 5 pm and I have to leave. It’s time for my injection after
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which I have to rest for 1 hours in order to relief the pain. Why don’t you have some tea, please have
Previously there used to be forest in the JSW acquired area. Local people had 25% share of
forest property. If any tree of forest sells from government, each family gets the share. They
were benefited from forest. When forest land allotted for JSW project, all trees of the forest
were cut down illegally by CPIM party members. Local people didn’t get any share of forest
property. To interfere in this incidence, Maoists tried to enter the village. “tokhon dhukle ora
kichu ekta bebostha korte parto” though the villagers were terrified in that situation for Mao
and harmad confict and they could suffer also..But when the respondent explained his
helplessness at the time of land acquisition ,a reflection of hope or faith on Maoists aroused
which they didn’t have on the existing political party. They thought Maoists may become
There was a TMC meeting held in Bargadia. Harmadh started firing behind the dam. Before
assembly Harmad worked for CPIM and Maoist worked for TMC. Harmadh guarded the
meeting of CPIM party.
What was harmadh? Harmadh looks like Maoists. They walked with arms specially guns.
They were any sense when they dunked. “harmadh ra maobadi der motoi khye deye ghora
ghuri korto kono disa thakto na” (They have no difference between Maoists and Harmadh)
How they helped people? They worked a lot for common people. Some where they were
stamped CPIM party members to help common people to get work. “ora prochur koreche.
Onek jaigai oder chotrobhongo kore kaj diache. Public er jeta seta public ke firia dao”
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respondent gave this statement in favour of the Maoists and also against the CPIM party.
They want to say that Maoists did a lot for them. Even they fought against the CPIM and
arrange job (100 days work mainly) for them. Maoist raised their voice against the land
acquisition in favor of the villagers. Maoists were armed and also they looked like common
There was a TMC party meeting held near Baragadha. Harmadh started firing from back of
dam. The meeting was dismissed and people fled away from there. After some time we
heard the bomb blasting sound from both forest side and Asnasuli village side. Due to fear
the villagers of Natundih started fled away from house.
I asked again to say something about the nearest forest then they timidly expressed that
except the “Joutha bahini” there was no problem. I enquired with astonishment that what
“Joutha bahini” means. Suddenly one young man of them became impulsive and replied,
“Didn’t you listen the name Joutha bahini or Maobadi … in the News paper or Television… you
should know this because you are literate and educated…. I think you got my point…”
With the flow of time they became more eager to know our intentions, they had a doubt that
I went there for collecting information regarding the maoist or political issues. That thing
revealed slowly with the coming conversations.
Then I told them that I have listened through the media not
conversant with the
situation which you had faced in here so you can only describe me that time or struggle.
Afterward one of the old men started with a pause that they had spent “nights of fear”, in
that time day and night was the same for them, if they had something that was the fear. For
that reason people still afraid to discuss the phase. Though according to him they were
unknown about those facts. Then I told him that I have read about the Maoist but never see
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them and meeting or seeing them is not so easy. Not giving me the time to finish my words
all of them shouted with a laugh and told me that they had seen “them” talked with them
even one of the middle the aged men was caught and dropped in the forest by the Jangal
Bahini. Then I pressurized that middle aged man to tell that incident.
Through time they got started to believe us and shared that incident.
Before Bidhan sabha election on a night of winter Mr. Murmu fled away from his house for
rescuing his life from the Joutha Bahini. Around 2’O clock at night a number of Maoists
entered to his house and asked for Mr. Murmu but while his family replied that they did not
know where he was, the force beated Murmu’s wife badly and one of them pressed up his 7
years old son’s throat with the boot. Mr. Murmu failed to escape in a safe place; he was
caught from his way and was dropped in the forest by Jangal Bahini. In the forest he was
badly beaten by Maoists because he refused to attend meetings and suspected as supporter
of harmad. Meanwhile the battle started between Police and Jangal Bahini or Kishen ji.
Getting the scope he escaped from the forest. After that time he and his family fled away
from his home and village and faced a phase of traumatic fear. According to them Maoists
are converted into TMCP leaders. But now they think they are safe because they have a
thought that Maoists fought for owing the seat and they succeeded. In the meantime I asked
them was there any Maoist resident in Ramraidi. One young man of them replied that
Ramraidi was Harmad’s village and the nearest village Notundih was the Maoist’s village.
Few of them tried hard to change the topic but failed to stop him. The young man, pointing
a nearby old Banyan tree, told us that he was a great eye witness and sufferer. Several times
battle was held between Harmad and Maoist or Ramraidi and Notundih. When gun was
fired from the Notundih for saving own life people hided himself or herself behind that tree
and bullets stuck into the tree. Rest of them also joined him to explain their experience
related to the tree.
To them the Tree Carries a lot of significance and reminds them past days moreover it acted
like the savior. By a thunderbolt the tree died few months ago but still it exists in the same
place with his burnt wood. Time flows but space remains the same though people’s thought
regardless of the space changing over time.
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Then they piled up their memory and advised me that if I could go in the Notundih to do
my fieldwork and tell them,” We have not visited Ramraidi yet…” Because these two villages
are rival if they heard about Ramraidi shut their mouths up and will talk to them as if we
did not meet the villagers of Ramraidi. Suddenly few peoples gathered around and called
them up to join with them. But I convinced them to spend few more time with us. One of the
old men continued that they had seen AK-47, 9M and few more kinds of gun during the
battle between Jangal Bahini and Harmad. According to them when Maoist’s came in the
field they didn’t stop them because they were totally unknown about their intensions. On
the day, Jindal was inaugurated; Jangal Bahini planned to blast a bomb near the Kolaichondi
to spread fear among the ruling party and harmad. They also protested for the Jindal’s
project because they didn’t want to leave the rights over the forest. They also saw Maoists
riding on the bike but according to them they are the common man for instance they just
look like them. The darkness of night changes the identity of people that time they covered
their face with black clothes. One interesting thing they shared with us that Joutha Bahini if
called a meeting around 12’O clock at noon then the meeting was held on the 9’O clock at
What kinds of disturbance occurred during 2008-2011? Question asked by me. He replied
‘here’ and tuned the voice low and told a lot of disturbance held in this place. Then
respondent raised the question “maobadi sunechen??” when I said yes; then he explained
when the Maoists first came from Lalgar and the disturbance(murder) began to occur then
the villagers became panic-stricken because they experienced some horrified events. For
example, they experienced that, in one night two villagers suddenly kidnapped and later
murdered because they were the members of CPI(M) party. The disturbance started from
Lalgarh. He heard that “maobadi asche maobadi asche” (This alarming tone brings fear
within the villagers). At that time some villagers clarified that if they don’t joined
Janasadaraner Committee there was certain problem occurred in this village like villagers
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were murdered by them. Later they realized Janasadaraner committee and Maoists were
incorporated. Due to fear and tensional situation all villagers were joined in Janasadharaner
committee. Janasadaraner committee held meetings in no specific place. Meetings held in
mainly forest and field. Villagers were must go to the meeting at that they fixed. “Akhon
Jodi bole meeting ache 4 tar somoy takhone jete hobe… Jetei hobe”.(Joining the meeting was
compulsory for each family. The disturbance created the fear among the villagers). Who got
the information about this meeting? They got the information of meeting from the villagers
who were against the CPIM party. They went to meeting. “Thik ache gelam. Bachte to
hobe”( If they were not attained the meeting, they feared about their life.) Who were the
speakers in meetings? Leaders of “Janasadaraner” committee with armed Maoists were
addressed the speech. What kinds of speeches they delivered? They told that villagers must
be prevented the police, forest guards and any governmental agencies to entering in their
village. Their agenda was CPIM party members illegally take governmental money. “Our
war was against the CPIM party”. They took program like bit office firing. They went to that
place with huge amount of (5,000) people and vandalized the bit office quarters and office.
They were not willing to do this work. Because villagers know the work was bad but they
had nothing to do on this matter. “Amar icha nei ami dekchi kaj ta onnay. Upay to nei.
Amakeo jete hobe oi jaigay na gele muskil ache”(The fear of Maoists/Janasadaraner
committee worked on the people at that time. Villagers know the work was wrong. But due
to they and their family survival they must done this job otherwise its threat for their
family). They burnt CPIM leader houses and also two CPIM party members were murdered
by them. “CPIM r ghor purea dilo. Tarpor 2 jon CPIM neta murder holo takhon amader
sonkar sisti holo”. (They were much more feared after these incidences.) Then “ora”
(representative of Maoists) told villagers were appointed as night guard. Because they want
the police to enter the village. I had also done this job in day and night. All the roads
blocked, outsiders don’t entered the village. I asked, all the people of this village worked as
night guard? Yes, He replied and repetitively said all the people of village worked as night
guard alternatively. Maoists/Janasadaraner committee leaders prepared the list of villagers
who worked as night guard for that day. If you don’t worked as night guard then what
happened? They beat the unwilling villagers. Leaders of Janasadarener committee in our
village told us if you don’t work as night guard, we informed the Maoists. They came and
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murder you. “Merei to felto onek ke” (He told that this type of incidence happened with
stress the word murder). Who was murdered? The lower level CPIM party leaders were
murdered. Maoists kidnapped a boy (not mentioned his name) and takes away in a meeting.
Maoists were bitten the boy brutally in meeting until his death. “ekhane ekta chele chilo take
meeting e tule nie gie pitie marlo” (He wanted to describe the cruelty of Maoists). Did you
attain the meeting? No, I was not attained the meeting. But my wife should attain the
meeting. (Fear and threat of Maoist worked as compulsion). All the female of village must
attained the meeting. My wife walked twenty kilometers for attaining the meeting. “Amar
stree je ghore thake take o 20km hete jete hoeche kintu jetei hobe”. He described these kinds
of incidence as torture of Maoists over them.
Where harmad-Maoist fight happened? They pointed a village where maoist- harmad fight
happened. Do you hear firing and bomb-blasting sound? Yes we heard the sound of firing
and bomb-blasting in day and night. We also saw the firing in night. “oisob din gulor katha
bhable ga suere othe” (They don’t wants to recall those days because this creates fear on
their mind). Due to fear they speared sleepless night. Maoists enforced to switch of the light.
If any Maoist died fought with police, they enforced every villager not to cook from
morning to night. “khobor chole elo aj sokal theke rat projonto ranna kora cholbe na”. We
made food previous night and eat till next day night.
Our informant recalled the incident of the battle between Harmad and Maoist something
differently, like he started with aghast and told us that the people of Kolkata might not had
gone through such a loud sound (as sounds of crackers had been compared there with the
sounds of the bombarding of the rifles) during Diwali. “ 26th agrahayan je Harmads r
Maobadider judo hoeye chilo–amar mone hoy sedin je golaguli r awaz hoechilo, Kolkata r
manush Diwali teo eto potka fatayni”. Almost three hundred fifty Harmads and Maoist
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fought for the whole night of twenty sixth of Aghrahayan (month of December) and the
sounds of bombarding snatched the sleep of the locales of Kasijora. It was four thirty of the
evening, when the harmad and maoist got started to fight with their full- force (men and
armed equipments). At first the Harmads got defeated but later they had been able to defeat
the Maoists, he mentioned also that the Maoist had thrown more bombs rather than
bombarding rifles. That battle blocked the further entrance of the Maoist inside the village of
Kasijora and since their defeat they had receded again to the interiors of the jungle. Besides
Kasijora the battle between Harmads and Maoists were held in Enaitpur. The informant
shared one of his experience regarding the conflict at Kasijora, he described the event like
this, it was the morning of probably second week of December (as he mentioned the date as
26th of Aghrahayan) that the battle of Harmads and the Maoists started with a high firing of
the guns, the informant had an habit of taking tea while smoking, he sat in a bench on his
room (after waking up in the morning) and started to take his first puff, while suddenly a
bullet came and hit the wall behind the bench in which he was sitting that day, the bench
was a few centimeters away from that wall- this incident made him an afraid a bit; as that
bullet could have taken his life within a few seconds delay. “ami sokale ektu smoke kori,
cha baniye, ektu biri te tan merechi, hotat khub jore ekta bullet ese amar pechone porlo,
janina seta kar guli chilo”. Next he continued to say that the sounds of the firing of the rifle,
was very prominent and it was very frequent too, for the whole day the condition
mentioned by him continued. About three hundred fifty harmads were firing that day with
one thousand of Maoists. At one point of time the Harmads were defeated by the hands of
the Maoists. Then Susanto Ghosh, a CPI (M) leader came with three trucks of people
(Harmads) and won that battle. The area came under the hands of the harmads. Finally
when the sounds of firing started to got feared, our informant went out of his house to had a
glimpse and then he got the news from his neighbors, a young man (age within twenty to
twenty five) of their village had shoot, probably by the harmads.
During the 1999, Maoist came to capture a position besides the leading political dominance
(at that time it was CPI (M). The dominance of the Maoist raised high during the upheavals
of the TMC for taking the political power from CPI (M). Mentioning the year, that was the
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whole of 2010 and the starting of 2011, he continued to describe the condition of his village
at those days. He said that at 10 o’clock at night, a jeep loaded with 200-300 harmads halted
at the kasijora primary school, which was at that time the main camp of the Harmads. They
were along with their equipments, consisting rifles, SLRs. previously the people got the
news that the harmads are going to reside in the camp ( kasijora primary school, so with fear
in mind they had sent their female members to the house of their near, close and distanced
relatives to different parts of Bengal, namely Kolkata, Birbhum, and such others, also few
males were also there. So there remained the remaining male members, consisting only
eleven individuals of the village. After the incoming of the Harmads the male members
were called out to announce a notice to them which told that for the safety of the villagers
those harmads were being brought so they (harmads) had to be provided with food, cooked
by the males remaining in the village (“dekho gramer lokera parbeni, gramer lokera safety r
jonne amra, harmads, der enechi, tai eder khawa te hobe, amra ee sod dibo, tomader ranna
kore dite hobe”), the ingredients for cooking would all be provided from the camp only they
had to give their labor in making the food for them and to serve them. Without uttering any
single word and with fear (of being killed, as many people had lost their lives in the hands
of the harmads) in mind the people at that time accepted the decision announced to them.
Sometimes people joined the processions of Harmads unwillingly and if that was also not
done by anyone, that individual was severely beaten, and these were common at those dayshe pointed those acts as the rule of Harmads.
OCL is situated in the heart of the jungle Mahal where the wars of Harmad and Maoist were
fought. The main reasons of the fight were long negligence of government towards its
people. But its successful implementation would have change all this as then ruling party
have thought that industrialization of these places is the only way of reviving both economy
and peoples belief toward the party. They wanted a speedy implementation of the project.
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Maoist’s problem came in light after the land mine blast near the chief minister’s car. And
then a subsequent group was formed by the ruling party which have both party members
and villagers. They were the villager’s denial against the Maoists oppression. But as all good
thoughts have a bitter meaning. This situation also became a gun battle and villagers caught
between it. Maoist started killing the ruling party members and the other group started
The group formed by the villagers and the party men was named Harmad by the then
opposition party president and called in many others name by the others. Harmads were
typically created to act as a defence of the villagers from the Maoist who used to live in
But there are many supporters of the Maoist and Harmads among the villagers. And these
clashes of these two groups have become personal fight in many instances where out of
personal frustration people killed others in the name of defences.
Before the election of 2011 and post 1 year of election the situation was very bad and
unstable. The Harmads use to order all villagers to attain their meetings, which used to hold
in the forest at night. And no service was provided by the Harmads to the villagers in the
meeting not even water But who ever protested or did not attain the meeting were punished
and were bitten in the process. They were very much aggressive to the villagers.
To some villagers Harmads are more disturbing than the maobadis, some said they are hired
‘gundas’ of CPIM party. But these facts are questionable.
Trauma can still be seen in the memory of the villagers, while they were sharing their
memories with us, it was clear in their eyes as well .Fear was always there from both
Harmad and Maoists which is evident from their recalls of memory. Fear was the real
weapon of both of the group and they used it well on villagers and it was like balancing
game where each of the group wanted to dominate the villagers by force and use of the fear.
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Maoist used to kill CPIM Party leaders and put the corpses in public places with certain
notes. Harmad used to torcher villagers to go to the meetings and if someone fails they were
punished in any way they wanted them to punish.
Maoists and Harmads in fights with each other often hurt common innocent people. The
sounds of firing of guns and bullets were horrifying. The villagers nearly forgot to sleep
during that time.
Women in some villages were molested by the notorious groups. They were forced to cook
for them, on denying they were punished. Many families that time, due to this reason, sent
their daughters out of their houses and out of the village to keep them safe.
Student: We have heard these 2 terms(maobadi and harmad) a lot, can you share with us
your one of the most fearfull experiences regarding them?
Informant: oooh..sister, don’t ask what a horrifying time it was for us, those notorious
troups almost stole the peace from our lives...
Student: When you are calling us sisters, then please don’t hesitate to share .. go ahed..
Informant: (Started saying in a single breadth)My mother-in-law was asked by the Harmads
to visit the meeting which was held in nearby Forest, but due to her poor health at night she
tried to convince them, they did not listened but as a punishment in the cold weather they
gave her a soap and pushed her in to a pond and told her to apply the soap on body. After it
when she got up on the shore she was pushed back in the pond again and it was continued
for some time, until she fainted on the ground....
Student: God..canibles thay are...I wish you overcome this memory soon..
Student: We have heard these 2 terms(maobadi and harmad) a lot, can you share with us
your one of the most fearfull experiences regarding them?
Informant: Those fearfull nights, loaded with sounds of bullets, every moment we felt like
this could be our last moment..
Student: Please share with us, be easy..
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Informant: The people who were members of CPIM were forcefully taken out from their
houses and taken out in the main road and were killed by shooting inside the mouth!
Student: OMG!!! How horrible!! How could they?
Informant:(with sorrows in eyes) Among them, Rabiranjan Mahato was alerted previously
but he refused to leave the house, due to these murders 60 – 65 families fled from their
houses to be safe.
Student: Where did they go?
Informant: The homeless people then fled to their relatives’ house for shelter. During that
furious time I took shelter in a field till 12 am. and after that I took shelter in a neighbour’s
house. For some days this process went on. 5 – 6 people along with me took shelter like this,
my wife and my brothers’ wife were sent to their fathers’ houses, only my brother, aunt and
father resided in the home then..
Student: why? Wasn’t your father afraid??
Informant: Father refused to leave the home even if in cost of his life, how could he...it was
his ancestral land..
Student: He is fine na??
Informant: Ohh yes...God has praised our lives....
Local Governance (Panchayat and Political Parties)
The conversation as been presented in a narrative order with normal font (when a student is
talking) and in italics (the informant is talking).
What about ‘Poriborton’ .. now ..isn’t it working well enough ? There has been no benefit after
the change. “Lion used to be the king of our jungle. One day a Tiger came and complained us that the
Lion is eating all the animals in the jungle. So let me be the king.” What did happen is the Lion used
to eat only one animal a day, but now the tiger kills more than many a day. These days..i mean now..
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whenever the ministers or local party members and goons arrive they lament the same story over and
over again. ‘The story of cremation ground’. ..(laughs) You people won’t understand this..actually
there is a story which goes like –
“One day a boy had his exam. It was a paragraph writing exam. So he mugged up a paragraph on
cremation ground but unfortunately that did not come in the exam. What did came was to write a
paragraph on ‘Cow’. So with his general ideas he wrote what everybody else knew..like the cow has
four legs, two eyes, two ears, one tail, two horns, .. they he stopped. He was unable to write anymore
since he had no further knowledge regarding the cow…So what he did was he made the cow die in his
lines very fast and bottled up the idea that if the cow dies it has to go to the cremation ground. So from
then on he was well prepared and vomited the whole mugged up cremation paragraph to fill in his
These people now, I mean the ruling government has no plans for us. They do not utter a single plan
for our future, nor do they talk of any support. Only thing they lament is what CPI(M) has done
before…their wrong doings, their murders etc.
The Case of Kundan: Leadership and Control
Kundan Mana, 26 years old, living in a house just near the gate of JSW in Jambeda village,
has passed M.A. in history two in 2007. His brother has business of electric cable line. But he
is still unemployed. He is an active worker of TMC. There is a club in his village outrange.
The club has a football team. The team plays in district. Cricket, Volley, etc. are also played
in his village. District sports association has provided all the needful equipments for football
and Volley. Zindal has also promised to help their players. There are financial problems in
their village. Kundan and his friends arranged a meeting with all the experienced old age
and young members of the village and proposed a plan that they will give a list of land
problems of the villages to Sansad & another list to JSW for the betterment of them. The
main problem of their village is drinking water. They applied to the BDO for making their
trianking water system better. Two persons of the village are allotted for the “Amar Biri”
plan of Government. 67 thousand rupees are sanctioned for two persons. Mainly who are
from lower income group but have their own land could avail the plan. Another new project
“Nija Bhumi” is also sanctioned for 5 persons. All these projects are allotted by the
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Panchayet. They have repaired shade of the huts into asbestos shade. 8 to 9 persons could
repair their home. 118 persons got health card this year and at least 115 persons are doing
the 100 days job. The health card of 30,000 rupees is helping all the persons of the village but
at time of left front nothing would happen in this village. BPL card holders are also
increased in number, 127 BPL card holder are there in this village now. They have solved
another problem which was started at the time of left front government, i.e. related with
potato agriculture. At that time of 2007 price of potato fall down in market and the
government announced that they will give the subsidy. So that time in the name of the
potato farmers all the LCMs of CPI(M), took away the money and panchayet supported this
miss up fully. Almost 70 persons were cheated. But after Bidhansava vote when power has
been changed and TMC own. The situation has been changed. They investigate about the
incident and sand all the persons who were attached with this into jail. At the entrance of
their village there were a club called Binay, Badal, Dinesh Sangha. But the LCMs of CPI(M)
broken down the club and Kundan and many other of his friend were bitten badly by the
‘Harmads’. This incident instigated Kundan to support the opponent party TMC otherwise
before this he also supported the CPI(M) and given vote to them. But in the day 9/11/2007,
the most significant problem regarding the stolen trees from the Zindal area put the Village
into fire. CPI(M) leads were about to stall almost 100 trees and they were caught by the
villages Kundan and many of his friends were saying that they will not allow them to take
away the trees. They caught the CPIM leader and did not allow him to go out of the village
for two days. BDO, Police, CPI(M) leades, all came at Jawbeda. But all the situation
transformed against Kundan and his friend after that. CPIM said to policy that Kundan was
the main leader and he and his team was doing all the wrong. They were stilling free form
Zindals area. Newly master degree holder Kundan caught by police. He was the first master
degree holder of barber caste of his village. So regarding to this situation all the villagers
were changed in mind and started to support TMC. In 2008, Sudarshan was the nominated
person from TMC did last for 50 votes. Binay Badal Dinesh Smriti Sangha again broken by
CPIM at the date of result. But after 2011 all the situation has been changed. The control of
Zindal was transformed from CPIM to TMC. Particularly Kundan is the main person who
has a very good relation with Zindal management. Santara family was the main land given
family. Jambedia Sansad is controlled by Santara and Manas because they are the majority in
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the village and as they are supporting TMC, all the villagers are in support of TMC. Still
Sansad pradhan is CPI(M) leader by he does not have any power. All the power lying down
in the hands of TMC. TMC is very much worried about the Panchayet Election. 4- 5 persons
are being watched by Chanda and TMC leaders who have the popularity over the village
and have the capacity to get control over a situation, at least passed Madhyamik
Examination and with many more criterion. But above all who will be nominated for vote
the person has to be very faithful to his party. If he disagree to listen the Party decision then
TMC will be in a big problem. From this booth they have a core committee. Kundan is the
member of that core committee. There is a healthy competition exist among them to survive
in the party, because most of the villagers are educated now. In CPIM time, there were no
other argument among the villagers, whatever the LCS of CPI(M) said was agried by all the
villagers. But now if they do anything wrong, many other candidates are waiting to take the
post. So they have to work very carefully. There are B Sansad under 4 No. Anchal, but aonly
5 Sansads are getting the welfare and development project of government. So, to keep their
power upon the village TMCX has to work properly.
After 2011 all the CIP(M) leaders left the village in the fear of the villagers. They
knew that time has been changed so they have to move on. But if the pradhan of Sansad are
not there in the sansad office then now TMC will do the work for public. So Kundan called
them to come back in the villag.e TMC used to told that the CPI(M) leaders that in by those
days of 34 years you people have done what ever you want, but right none you are not in
power so you should do what ever we will order “CPI(M) was the party who were entirely
depends on cadres. The power full and healthy cadres were called Harmad at the time of
“I am doing the opposition of CPIM since 2008. Untill Parliament vote the we had to
keep ourself very polite to CPI(M). Othersise the “Harmads’ were ready to bitten us
aggressively. Every night one person from every family used to go to protect them from
‘Mobadi’. They used to sleep and we were used by them as their security. I never seen
Masbodi and no incident of murder had done in our village but at Dhyanyasole one person
has been killed by Maobadi, when he was doing rehearsal of a theatre at the clubroom of the
village, he shooted by Maobadies.
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JSW – Mainly JSW has given the Xerox copy of the dead of the given land. And send
them letter for their training. First slot 100 person and in the second slot 300 persons were
allorted for the training. JSW promised that they will compensate their land by giving them
employment JSW. But if any one failed in the training them they are not getting the job. Two
slot training has been done but one two person got the recruitment. Otherwise all the other
works are done byu the contract labourers. 45 contractors are doing working with JSW
fagter 2011. Among them demand of electricians are so high. 8 to 70 pesons of the village has
been worked as electricians to JSW. Kundan actually controls the communication system
between JSW and local people.e Last DGM (Deputy General Manager) Mr. Ajay Kr. Pasi
loved him very much. From 2011 onwards Kundan is doing the things both for JSW and his
village. If JSW is planning for doing any project Kundan suggested them to take some of the
poor villagers of Kambeda. JSW one affered the villages to go and observe their Beldahari,
Karnataka project, so that they can understand what type of proeuction was going on there.
49 persons were selected from 4 Nos. and 9 No. Anchal and Kundan was among them. This
was happen at the middle of 2012.”
“It was like a dream. After getting down from the train a super luxuty Volvo was
standing for us. The Volvo took us to the hotel where a luxury residential hotel was waiting
for us. All the rooms were A.C. There was also a switch which we could press in the time of
need of anything. Next day JSw took us to the Beldahari project. I could not imagine even
that anything is there in this world which is so smooth, clean. A school is running over there
for the villagers. JSW has done everything. They made a project on drinking water,
established a shool there. Giving the midday meal for all the schools over their, giving
training to the women for cloth stiching, basic computer training is also given to them. On
the very next day we went to their factory. We were dressed line the labours of JSW and the
production system was amazing. A party was arranged by JSW where all the managers and
senior persons of JSW has come and gave us a long lecturer about their future planning of
their Salboni Project. It was an amazing experience with them. After returning from
Beldahari a meeting arranged by us where DGM and all the villagers were present and we
had to share our experience of Beldahari with other villagers.”
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There is a huge influence of local government in the OCL project. Time to time they
arranged meetings with villagers like middle man in the whole project. They induced the
villagers and OCL to come to an agreement regarding compensation amount and other
facilities that they will give.
Only function that the local Panchayet played to notify the villagers about the land
grabbing. And during the disturbance at the construction site by villagers they tried to
resolve the problem.
The left front has a very good image in many of these villages. As in the past years of their
time they had done a number of good did s for the villagers .As almost years ago they were
able to have electricity, good BPL service, the projects which were proposed or came mostly
was fulfilled. And in case of the TMCP, the villagers say they are still waiting for
revolutionary actions of the Government. But after the election at least by the action they
took to stop the MAO brought peace and safety to the villagers and this is a very good side
Maximum people are not expressing their feelings as they are in fear of the political leaders.
The Case of Raju: Leadership and Control
Raju Mondal is Youth Secretary of TMC. He lives in Beucha. Raj u lives in a
home which is not his property and the problem started with that since he
came to the village.
A 55 years old lady named Monorama Khatua lived in Beucha who did
not have any relative and she was unmarried. As Raju has his maternal home
in Beucha and he is a very loving person. Monorama requested Raju and his
family to stay at her name. The house and surrounded area was about 50
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Kattha land. Raju and family used to stay there after that among this 50
Kattha of land 36 Kattha she gave to other persons and rest 14 Kattha land
was in the use of Raju and his family. It was done in the Congress period.
But after 1978 the left front did not sticks on her decision and the lady sold
out all his lan ds to Kishori Mohon Banerjee. Kishori Mohon Banerjee was a
very kind heart person and never came to tense possession at home. But the
lady was so clearer and cruel that she just thrown away Kishori Mohon as
she gave 10,000/- Rupees as debts to Kishori Mohon and torture him and his
family with the help of CPIM party cadars. Then the lady wanted to thrown
Raju and his family also. That she transferred all the papers in the name of
here will, but did n ot succeed in this plan. A fter this the lady has gone to
Puri and died there. After death of the lady her niece tried very much to
evicted Raju and his from there she made a false plan she said Raju that she
will give the living house in name of him. But tried to sold out the land to
another person. After knowing this Raju got angry and the paper of court
did not done. Raju and his family is still living at that home. After 1998,
when TMC started getting upliftment Raju was in support of TMC. Raj u
faced a great difficulty for their severe threading and torture done by CPM
but Raju did not escape. Many problems were there before 2011. Panchayet
did not do anything for the villagers. But right now the situation has been
changed. Raju and other party members control the panchayet. Panch ayet
members are CPM but TMC has full control over panchayet. Raju has total
control on OCL administration. In 2008 OCL first surveyed that area and
fixes the plot that which land they would take for their factory. Being an
activist of TMCP he was well kno wn to all the villagers and OCL sometimes
took his help to make conversations with the villagers regarding land
transfer. At the end of 2008 they send a notice to accr ue and offered them
3,20,000/- bigha lan d. At the binging OCL decided to take labour thro ugh
representatives from village among each 5 of them. TMC interfered in this
matter. Raju had a conversation with Jayanta Chakraborty, the manager of
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OCL that if villagers would not ethane ge t jot at factory they would stop
works. After that many villagers are working at factory and Raj u totally
controls the matter.
Forest department prohibited Gram Panchayet to cut the Gram
Panchayet requested forest department to allow them to cut the trees to
expend the roads for Zindal. But forest department denied then Gram
Panchayet fore fully cut those trees. Then forest department applied outside
force to stop the Gram Panchayet in their action in which one villager got
seriously injured. In reparation gram panchayet with the help of TMCP
supporters attacks those hooligans who they called Harmad. The so called
Harmad filed a case against Trinamool supporters on kidnapping on the
other land attempt to murder against the Harmad who injured a person from
the village. But this was rejected by the local police on the ground of false
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Local Consequences and Assessments of the Dispossessed
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Promises of Power and State of Delay
(The following conversation has been presented in a narrative order)
Me-So, this ‘Maoists’ mainly revolt for the land issues?
I-I don’t know whether the mid-aged person doesn’t understand me or intentionally skip
the answer…) No, no. They didn’t capture any land…(he is stammering…) Those Jindal
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acquired the whole land…(then again they started to say about the patta lands, again same
issue) Here in the acquired land we cultivate since 20-30 years but we don’t get the authority
of the land. (I think still now they think we are government officials and if they stress this
point there may be some hope)
Me-(Now think it is the high time to light the imbedded cause-why they are deprived?) Why
don’t you get the patta of those lands?
I-(The mid-aged person says-) Then there were some issues of Party (probably Party
politics), we gave our petitions, but we don’t know what is going on there!
Me-So, you gave your petitions…
I-Yes, we did…we did everything but still…(the old aged says-) look, here in the Patharchti
muja there are 105 beha Khas, still there. We did everything from ‘amin’ to ‘jarip’
(measuring the land) to survey but when we submitted our petitions then the head refused
to sign by saying “Now you can’t get the patta.” (Then the mid-aged man starts talking-)
Look madam, there in the forest, we didn’t get anything in the forest. When we said them,
the government said-“This is the total jangalmahal area, with the help of forest department
we are trying to…” (Here they say other things also, but due to their accent I can’t
understand what they exactly say)
Me-The total area is Jangalmahal, isn’t it?
I-(The mid aged man says-) yes the total area. They assured us but still (by smiling) the net
result is zero. (The old man says-) Actually these lands were given as patta to all but then it
was not given…(In their every topic they trying to point the previous ruling party’s
Me-Then who was the ‘pradhan’?
I-(The mid-aged says-) That one in Kashijora…(the old aged says-) Now there is Amulla
Me-So, did you go to him?
I-Hmmm…(unwillingly) We said everything but he didn’t sign even the office didn’t allow
to submit the petition (in a depressing tune)… Everything became futile…just spoiled all the
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Me-Why? You guys cultivate the land since 20-30 years…so, why didn’t you try previously
when the patta was given to all?
I-(Now the old-aged says boldly…he is trying to prove his place to me) Oh ho! Whatever
document they asked to give we tried to fulfill it…after doing ‘jarip’ for preparing the
survey report cost whole a one month. But the petitions were set aside.
Me-Who did set aside your petition? (I tried to focus on their attitude towards the previous
ruling power) Who did reject your petition, ‘pradhan’ or the government?
I-(They try to give diplomatic answer) both the ‘pradhan’ and officials of R.I office didn’t
sign on the petition.
Me- Why didn’t the R.I officials sign on it? What was their point?
I-They said ‘if ‘pradhan’ sign it then we will sign it’ but as the pradhan didn’t sign it they
also refused to sign. Now what can we say (depressingly)
Me-So didn’t you say anything to your party members?
I-(Hesitated to answer…) Hmm…We asked them thousand time but they said ‘there is
nothing in our hand. We are only the follower of order of the upper officials.
Me-This new ruling party don’t help you?
I-(Immediate after saying this…) actually the new party come shortly before-but even in the
short time they do something but they don’t have all the power you know…
Me-So, does this new party try to satisfy you or the previous government was better?
I-(The mid aged began to smile but the old aged says-) No, no, they are doing…there they
start some kind of ‘bhata’ or helping some other way but these are not like the previous
time. Like the previous time they don’t start to do something for people.
Me-No, no…previously we can see that government gave ‘Indira Abus Jojona’, don’t they
start like this?
I-(All of them together say…) no, no. They don’t show like those efforts.
Me-You see the Bamfront govt. build so many industries…
I-They (with disgust)…actually they don’t help us…(the old aged person try to say
something but the mid-aged one forcefully stop him and intentionally shift the topic) the
new govt. We have a ‘Krishi Bikas Kendra’-from there we get a number of help.
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The conversation has been presented in a narrative order with normal font (when a student
is talking) and in italics (the informant is talking)
But if we look at the current scenario after Jindal arrived, there has been no progress. No work has
yet been done to bridge their presence gap. Absolutely no work has been done. Once a person from
the Jindal Planning committee of the concerned area opined that:
“yeha pein koi mitti ka ghar nahin rahega( There will be no mud house in this place).” Then I
said “ Sir, I just have a land and a mud house. To make a proper house I need money( trembling). Sir,
but all that I have got is only my land and no money. I am a villager , so from where will I get the
money. In reply the man promised “There will be not a single mud house in the village.”
Now tell us something about Jindal ! Yes, as I said before The Chief Minister didn’t utter a single
word about Jindal. The have found solutions to the land problems, but today the main problem is
water. Now my government is telling we have to sell the land to an industrialist to see industry
happen in this place. The water will come from the river Rupnarayan. There should be a rate of the
land. What will be that rate? It will be 20 times the cost of the land..which Jindal is saying now. For
eg: if the cost of my land in 1 lakh the rate will be 20 lakhs. Now what is for them who didn’t
contribute their lands? Say for example there are 500 such people who refused to give their land
whatever may be the cost. So how will the land be taken? Will the water really come ? And without
water there will be no industry. So there should be a rule which will force one to give away the land.
He should be made aware that he will give the land for a big cause. And to be very frank, the person
should be made clear that there will be no construction on his land, only water will pass through his
land. So to bring this water how will the industrialist deal with the farmer? It will require only 2
years, but sadly it won’t happen in 25 years if the conditions are like today. Suppose one plot has 10
shares, 500 rupees in each one’s corner. So why should I give the land for 500 or 5000 rupees? I won’t
give it. I am only talking about Industry. The scenario goes with a Bengali saying, “joto khai toto
dao”. The person distributing the sweets was pre informed by the host to give 2 sweets only, not more
than that. At the same time the host tells the same person “ serve them as much as they want” infront
of the guests. So the guests will blame the person distributing the sweets. No one will point his finger
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at the host. The situation here is absolutely like this. They are talking about Industry, in a way which
is possible after buying the land. The government must collaborate with the industry. If 70 % land is
given by the people , the rest 30% must be given by the government. A man can feed from and use his
land generation after generation. Even sell it after when the cost of the land increases. But today
neither do the people have their land nor the money. Today we fluked the money off by heavy drinking
and gambling. But the land? I lost my land.
But yeah, JSW offers a free service in health check up 2008 onwards. It not only acts as a primary
medical camp but also they do provide vehicles which will take you to Medinipore if any thing is
serious, for X rays, blood report, etc. What is the process involved in calling them for help. !
Suppose, I am ill or I had an accident..this will be reported to them. They will send in a car to pick me
up. I will treated by their doctors. If the condition is too critical , they will take me to Midnapore and
admit me there. This is entirely free of cost. Is there any restriction, like people who gave their
land to JSW will get this facility only ? No, there is no such restriction. Anyone from any village
nearby can come and will be helped accordingly. They have a separate department to take care of this
operation. You will notice a corner placed gate on your way by the road in Jambedia. There is that
department. You have to enter , write down your names , after which they will treat you accordingly
and if they find its too critical you will be taken to Medinipur. Apart from this JSW had plans
regarding water but there hasn’t been any progress yet. They also had plans to provide us with toilets,
a children’s park and a crematorium, but nothing has been done so far. Actually the cremation ground
here became a part of the JSW area, since then they promised to provide a crematorium. But they
haven’t. So where do the people go now and from when ? People cremate in their private
land..and this has been going since 2011.
What do they give you in training? No, we don’t get any pay during or for training. But they
provide us with the lunch only. The lunch includes a Veg meal of rice, dal , chutney…
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While many families readily agreed on OCL s deal, some families were not willing to bend
their knees before the coercion. They tried to hold back their land, though the numbers are
very few. As maximum land taken here were unused lands which merely had any
agricultural values, but the point in which the people became most annoyed was that the
promises of providing jobs were not kept. For that reason, many families revolted against
the company, some families who did not give any land also demanded job in the company
so they also revolted. But these revolts could not sustain for long time.
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Perception of Environment
The road you came by was decorated with trees..not only that there were lots of trees..I will say the
road looked like one decorated with trees. It was so beautiful. There were Krisnachura, Radhachura…
(both the man and his wife became emotional..their eyes glittered when they started describing the
road…the wife was mumbling out the tree names…) … there were so many mango trees that you
won’t believe .
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The industry has lead to increase in temperature in the area, especially in summers. The reduction of
tress which as in the current scenario can referred to as ‘absence’ of trees in the block results in no
rain or scanty rainfall. The lands are getting polluted and this will become more as the industry will
start developing. There will be scarcity in water resources when the Industry will start using it. ..
As far as damage is concerned Jindal destroyed the whole forest. So not only we are unable to collect
tree stuffs but also getting sticks for fire is out of question.
“We did not get much concern about nature regarding OCL, though some people were
worried that the air will be polluted and the sky will hide its face behind the darkness of
pollution caused by the factory.”
“The industry has lead to increase in temperature in the area, especially in summers. The reduction of
tress which as in the current scenario can referred to as ‘absence’ of trees in the block results in no
rain or scanty rainfall. The lands are getting polluted and this will become more as the industry will
start developing. There will be scarcity in water resources when the Industry will start using it. ..”
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The Open Reportier of Experience
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As the title suggest I will be illuminating my journey from my home setting to a field setting
and in this case both the setting are different. So 1st I have to explain my home setting,
Home means the place where I stay or from the place from where I study. My home setting
is a metropolitan city where I travel nearly 2 hrs. Daily, to reach my university and then
study there and again travel 2 hrs. To reach home. And in my home setting everything is
available easily like food, grocery, stationery, etc. And for me the setting where I live is the
best as I am used to it and I know how to get what I want to get.
But field setting is a place with which I am not used to, where I don’t know how to satisfy
my prerequisites. So it is somehow an alien place for me to go. We for our field work went to
Midnapore district and we stayed in West Midnapore town. To reach there we took local
train from Howrah which took us there by noon and took rest after reaching the Jilla parisad
Guest House. At evening our sir Prof. Arnab Das with Prof. Suman Nath blown the bugle
for starting of our field work by taking a class.
But coming to the point of field setting need a loads of elucidations that needs to be said. 1st
thing when I took my seat in the train in Howrah and I saw people besides me it felt like
different they were my co-passenger and their way of talking and which is bit different than
what we spoke in Kolkata moreover their body colour I won’t say that in Kolkata all are fair
but the colour was bit different they were tanned. Then the train took off and we all (all the
students) started chatting and after some time food started to find their route in to our
mouths and that route haven’t ceased till we reached the destination. But during all this I
managed to watch other co-passenger and their buying habits from railway hawkers. One
thing I have observed in Kolkata specifically in shealdha station which have 3 route (Main
line, Chord line and south line) that the type of food that were sold in station and train is
different in all three of the route. And the same thing I found here in the train. Hawkers
were selling Tea (black tea, Lemon tea), Jhal Muri (Puffed rice with spices and herbs), and
Chop (deep fried delicacy) etc. were sold in local train. But the train which I avail every day
to return home is also local train and total duration of the travel time of the train is approx.
2hour45mins which is nearly same as midinipur local travel time is 3 hour 20 min approx.
This shows the difference of eating habits while traveling in a local train. Also when I was
watching outside the window the station look vacant as compared to station here. One
thing I remembered after getting down from the train is the incident 2 years back. When we
were traveling to halisohor by a local train that time we were chatting and singing loudly
same as this time but that time some co passenger scolded us and told us not to shout. But
this time everyone was watching us but nobody shouted or scolded us.
After reaching Midinipur there was a guy standing there for us. He received us with a
smiling face and fixed the transportation for us. We then took Maruti Omni to reach the
guest house and then rooms were allotted to us. When we were in the car I was watching
outside and during afternoon everything look burning as the sun rays seems hotter here and
there were less people outside.
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All this things differentiates the home and field setting.
Experience is something that we acquire while doing things for me experiences are the
teachers and this is another way to acquire knowledge. While writing the report many
things came to my mind and I wanted to write all these things and this place is suitable for
me to write those untold words that I was waiting to tell.
There is sharp differences in the experiences gathered by me at different at villages I was
amazed that how tolerant these people are and the way they are coping up with the
Situation(political, social and environmental). We speak about global warming, water
problem etc. but we have always some alternative and we survive the situation like we fit ac
in home and buy water. But these people are the worst affected they don't know really how
temperature is escalating day by day also. Politically they are only seen as voters as they
don’t have the capability to give income tax they also don’t get any benefit. Socially they live
among such close bonds that are now fading in cities. They don't have means to minimize
their plight. But they adapted to live with this no matter how much they are deprived from
their rights and they get very minimum services.
On the morning of 24 February,2013 I with my class mates Under the guidance Prof Arnab
das and Prof Suman Nath went to West midinipur for our compulsory field training later
Prof. Subhrata Sankar Bagchi Joined us.
This fieldwork was different than all our previously done field training as because of the
different approach that Prof Arnab Das has used to understand the severity of the situation
was different. He gave us complete freedom of work, that doesn’t mean that we get to
choose the time and date and place of the field! But we got freedom to work the way we
liked. To start it I should start from the beginning it was long before field work started. In its
true sense it started the day Prof Arnab das told us that we have to go to the field work and
for that we have to study and enlist the current rural problem in India. That day he made me
keep thinking what will be our work. Before the next class I somehow understood that we
would be working in singur which was in news because of its failed land acquisition
process. On next class he told us about how he is thinking to conduct the said work. He
asked us for our point of view he gave us two proposition. One was in Lucknow and
another was in West Bengal. He told us how the problem are arising and how things here
are different than other states. He told us that a very little amount of work was done
previously and these areas of study needed to be explored. He told us that this fieldwork
would be different and tiring than the other we have done in past. He said we would
hopping to different villages and gathering data. At that point of time I was amazed that in
bsc level we spent 14 days and 6 hours a day only to understand 24 houses and how it is
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possible here to study 8-10 villages within same days. At that point of time I was wandering
what would be the questioner will it be different from the previous time. I was also
concerned that if we have to hop to different places that means we have to sleep at different
places every night, and suddenly a class mate loudly said that it would be enough if we are
provided thatch bed. And suddenly I became frightened that how will I sleep. But sir gave
me some relief by saying that we would be given rooms in guest house and these guest
house have good bathrooms also. That day he provided us with many
papers of various
discipline on jsw. He encouraged us to read and understand these problem by heart so we
could understand their situation better.
Then the time came when we have to pack our luggage for the field work and we were
instructed that not to carry lots of luggage as we have to travel a lot It felt like I was barred
from doing things as how can I travel with less clothes ? On the day of journey we were
instructed to come early and reserve the ticked for everyone. We were also asked make sure
that all get seat in midinipur local and reach safely. I came to the station alone around 9 am
that time only few of my mates have come, that day was sunny there was many fellow
travelers that day and the station was filled with people. When train was announced we
moved toward platform no 15. Reaching the platform it seem like any other platform but
entering the train things seemed different than any other train I have boarded before.
Because the way people were talking within themselves were different some of them were
eating puffed rice all together it was a different environment. Then train left the station and
slowly one by one we started crossing each station. While we were traveling we met a boy in
the train and we asked some general question about the place we are going to visit. We
asked about the weather he said that temperature is high during day time and cool at night.
We reached the Midinipur station after 3hr journey. There was 2 man present to receive us.
They fixed two car for us to travel to our lodge which was “Jila parisad” Guest House. We
went directly to the guest house. Girls were given dormitory and boys were given rooms in
twin share basis. That day in second half of the day prof hold an introductory class. There
(Kasijora) jila parisad chief came to our place and told us about the scenario of the palace.
When sir was asking about his experience during the time when violence was at its peak and
he show such an emotion he gave a sadden smile which showed me a glimpse of all his
sadness. He explained how during that time many leader were abducted and murdered on
the streets. He also shared that how he felt during time when he fled his home fearing his
death. That time was a difficult phase for him.
After the class was over we went to have our dinner at night and it was same like what we
ate but the extra Alu posto was given in the meal. (Later when I returned I searched why
they have post in their meal, I found that it help the body to maintain the body heat)
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Way to Ocl
Next day we had lunch and took bus to Godapiasal. Journey in the bus was also different
experience as this bus are not the bus which runs in Kolkata. These buses were semi luxury
long route buses. One thing which I have seen here which I only have seen in movies that
people are traveling in roof top of the buses. For the first time I experienced that myself it
was a wonderful and thrilling experience as during turn it felt like you are going to fall of
the bus. Asking a fellow passenger why they travel on the roof top he said that during peak
hours there is hardly any place to stand inside the bus so they have to travel either on top or
wait for the next bus to come.
The main goal of our field work was to know the model of land acquisition of jsw and OCL
in the salboni area. For that reason we chose some villages who have given their land to
On entering the 1st village “Kamarmuri” which was near to the national highway and also
given land to OCL. There Prof Arnab das introduced us with man who have political
background and would help us in our work. We went to his home. His house was mud hut
and his family have only 6 member including him. He have good network there and he was
a well-connected man which is well understood. He 1st answered our question then as
directed by the sir we get distributed throughout the village to cover as many as possible
houses. Condition of the village was not that much good as I thought it be as because it is
near the highway. One of the problem that is visible through naked eyes was Water. As we
can see dried ponds broken tube wells, and women carrying water pots from far places to
their houses. That day we went to 3 houses. After the day’s work ended one thing that I
understood that there is still an opposition present regardless of what the leader say and
these opposition say that previously they were in better condition than now. But there also
anther point to be noted that these people who belong to opposition are the people who
have somewhat better condition than other. One thing also that I noticed that there is fear
within people to speak their mind. It may be due to the way we are asking or maybe they
are thinking why they should tell everything on our 1st visit. Also one thing that I found out
that in last ten year there is a significant increase in School goers and awareness among
people have increased but the thing that is still lacking is the improvement of transportation
and availability of school near their village. People have an interest to know why we have
come to their particular village and where these information was needed and I have to made
them understood that these work was needed for academic purposes only.
Next day we went to house of a person who used to work as messenger and he was the
medium which was used to distribute information among villagers. He was also former
party member of CPIM but now left the 0party due to the death threat he received from the
member of the TMC. When he was describing his day during the time of the election and
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how managed that time was very sadden. When he was describing the instance where he
was abducted by the people once he helped. The sign of remorse was all over his face.
Then we went to visit the place where all their land was taken i.e. OCL. We have to walk 1.5
km to reach the guard walls of the Ocl. And the village where the main gates opens to was
Kulapachuria village is small village situated in the front of the Ocl gate. So there are many
new buildings were being built. But when we reached there we found something unusual
that before us some of our class mates were already been to that village and interviewed
them in such a way that they are not interested to speak anymore this incident reminded me
of that how important And delicate is our work and how a single individuals mistake could
ruin every ones work. So from further I became more conscious about how I speak and what
Today we roamed near the guard wall of the Ocl and tried to catch the glimpse inside of the
site. We took some pictures and also tried to understand what have changed in daily routine
after Ocl came to their village.
On day four we went to Beaucha village which is 10 km away from our guest house. To
reach the village we took a bus towards salboni from Lic More. We all boarded in the bus
and we get off at Kacheri More Stoppage. After getting off the bus we saw fields and within
that few shops and some rental cars. Seeing the stoppage it could be understood that it was a
bit modern than Godapiasal stoppage, it has a sanitation store, hardware store, grocery
store, cloths store etc. Which clearly state their buying habits and their socio economic
We walked almost 40min from the bus stoppage which is almost 3 km. While walking I saw
that people are recognizing us as outsiders and watching us they started gossiping. Some
came forward and asked us what is the purpose of our visit and we explained the reason
and from where we are coming. While walking in moram road (un-metaled road) we
discussed many thing about the settings and what we will expecting in village. From our
previous knowledge we known that Beaucha is populated area and socioeconomic status is
better compare to nearby villages as houses were well built peoples have motorcycles.
Before coming to the village we have already contacted with a person who is “gatekeeper”
of the village and our sole contact with the village. On entering the village we 1st met him.
He was standing beside a big playground and on one side there was primary and mid high
school was there and on one side there was primary health care clinic. We formally
introduced ourselves. Then he asked us to wait some time as he was talking to someone
named Debasis who worked in OCL Social relation department. He (debases) wanted to
know why we have come here and he spoke with our batch mate, he 1st asked him for what
reason we have come here and what is our intention so he clearly explained our motive and
what we are expectation from this field work, then he asked for a copy of our questioner so
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he was clearly told he that we are not carrying any kind of questioner we know what we
want and we are just asking question according to the situation. He somewhat became
satisfied and asked him that Ocl land acquisition is a sensitive issue and we should not make
it volatile. Then he (raja) divides us and set to different parts of the village. That day we
went to three houses and we was always accompanied by a person who hear what we tell
and also influences the answer. It was very frustrating and I wanted to lose him from our
tail so I many time asked him politely to leave us and told him to do his own work. Once he
left but within 40 min he again returned and started doing the same. That day we couldn’t
lose him. Later that day when our work finished I stated asking him question and found out
that he is doing politics as he really likes the power and position that comes with it and he
accompanying us because he was asked not to leave us. Later that day we came across a
Santal marriage. As we haven’t seen that ever so many of us we to see their rituals. We saw
the part that was done in grooms place. Drums were also played in background in an
unusual tempo. All total it was nice to see. In that marriage we were also got invited so see
next phase of marriage which was going to be done at bride’s house. But we refused on the
grounds that many of us don’t want to go there.
By time we have completed the 4th days’ work many of us have become ill due to the hot
weather at day. I personally fell ill. Till now I don’t know the exact reason but I want to taste
the local flavors so on day 2 and 3 I had Futchka. Maybe that somehow effected my stomach.
On next day of Beaucha visit many of us have to skip that’s days’ work due to their illness.
And some of us have decided to avoid these local delicacies as we are not habituated so it
may harm us and the next thing that we wanted was to go early to the village so that we can
have enough time to speak with our informants. As many of them work as daily labor and it
was hard for them to give time to us. Sir accepted this proposition and gave permission to
visit villages early.
Political situation in OCL region is different than that of jsw. In OCL region there are distinct
leader who uses their political influence to make OCL representatives to hear their words.
Here common people are somehow benefited by the BPL ration cards they are provide. But
still there are some hidden voices that are felt by me saying that new governance are also
failing to live up to what they said will do. They are also following the footsteps of their
predecessor. But somehow they are hesitating from complaining. Now in power party claim
that they have such a mechanism that will stop or prevent the party men form committing
such mistakes. They also closely follow each members work and theirs action. But still
talking with these political influence people somehow made me feel that they are somehow
confused and they have hard time to justify their party decision. These thought came to my
mind when I asked them why they are delaying to provide the BPL card to the poor
villagers, Will they give it before the panchayat election to gain votes. They just doesn’t have
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any answer except telling me that “you know how Government offices works and how
much time they take to these works.”
When I went there and started working I saw a light in the eyes of villagers that someday
they will get the job at OCL. But going deep into the their heads I found out that they are
really confused that will they ever get job or not, they are sometime feel hopeless, that they
already have given the land and they have consumed the compensation now they have
endless plight ahead in their future if OCL doesn’t start operating. Their sons have stopped
studying thinking that they will get job. The whole path have changed after OCL. It has
given them huge hopes that after it started operating the village will change in to city. But
the current progress of work put marks in to their fore head.
Way to JSW
JSW is big Steel firm which have huge area as compere to OCL.
Next day we got up early and packed our food and went to new destination Farm road bus
stoppage which was JSW site. Today we intended to visit village Jambedia where our
contact was a person who work as a middle man between JSW official and villagers. He was
also a graduated and a recent leader (means he became prominent after election and TMC
victory) talking with him was so easy at first I somehow felt that he might understand why
we have come there and he will provide us with all necessary details. But after one hour I
realized that he is somehow want to trick us and don’t want us to go to others place asking
questions. So he started telling everything that were not relevant to us. Then we all together
spoke that we want to go outside and talk with villagers and want get their point of view. So
finally he took us to 2 houses. We get divided. And started that day’s work.
During last election and before that salboni area was all over the news due to clash between
two groups One is Harmad Backed By CPIM and another was Moabadis ( Jungle Bhini)
these groups fought one of the deadliest battle in recent future and toll of the murder during
that time is still unknown. When we asked about these incidents we get one answered
everywhere “that nothing happed here, everything happed in the neighboring village”.
These was the common answer. I wanted to know the reason behind these similar answer.
When we were returning from Jambedia we became late and we have to take bus from there
at 6.30pm, at that time everything and everywhere was black. Only some light at JSW can be
seen from distance. That time I realized that how it’s like to live in place without of
streetlight and where black and night both are synonymous. When I was standing in the bus
stand in my phone light one question popped up in my head that I haven’t asked them how
its feel to live here during night and when I got up in the bus was well lit with yellow light.
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That day in the class we discussed what kind of information we got and discussion
happened over the quality of data that we need to get. And sir allotted us car for next day’s
work, which was very prestigious for me and I was relieved that tomorrow I won’t have
same pain in my legs as today.
Next day our car came late and our journey started late it was a bit disappointment for me.
But after that we took off smooth as ever. 1st stop was “Pathorchati” a village near JSW
guardwall due to the fact we came late to the field we have to work fast due time constrain.
We decided to gather as much data as possible within 1hour. We started to work and 1st
thing that I realized that how they ever go out of this village which is 8km far from national
Highway. We face such a problem just reach here by car I don’t know how they reach to get
the bus. There we met a person who was tribal. And also had local liquor in the morning.
We started talking with him and his son who also works with JSW. I don’t know what he
thought us he started to say that he fool and his lands were taken by his own brother and he
started crying we tried console him. then in the next village Burju where we got off the car
before the village started so that we could minimize the attention as we don’t want to seek
any attention apart from needed. One thing that was common that they don’t want to speak
and I get the same answer here that I mention previously. So further tracing that answer I
get that they are very much feared and they don’t want to invite anymore new trouble so
then like to pass that question so that they don’t have to answer anything this is a one
possible thing that I found there may be other reasons also. Going further deep, we found
broken walls which is done by the villagers but they don’t want to take any names. Talking
with them make me realize their plight and anger which resulted in such a destruction.
There was a ladder in the wall I got up and watched what is behind the wall I found out that
there is nothing barren land no work is going on. And then I understood what the villagers
might felt watching their land like that and not able to watch it or use it. “kasijora” was the
highlight of the day where I could really felt the pain of woman, they told me how badly
Harmad used to behave with them and how they used to beat them if they don’t obey them.
A old woman came to me and she told what happen the village and they get past all that.
She told that many fights were fought in the very ground and many men’s were missing. In
front of us Haria was being sold and two of my mate went there to talk with them and I
could see them from distance but it certainly I felt something cold inside me. There was a
vibe that something bad had happened there. I asked them to come they came and a person
also came with them he was drunk and seems not a good person. He asked us why we are
here and what is our purpose of visit is. We tackled him boldly and without wasting any
further time we shifted our informant and started interviewing.
Going further into other villages I found out the need of football ground and club house.
The explanation that they give was so satisfactory that I also thought that I also need it.
After the days works some aspect came clear in my head that previous regime was good at
1st the thing happened is that after running the government for such a long period they
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have become the one they once tried to abolish. And this is one of the reason why people at
grassroots lever started to keeping distance from them. They gradually lost their charisma
and used the power of violence as their weapon to control the mass and that became their
ultimate mistake and people turned next good alternative. Party that is running government
now. But it also fading because after winning the election certain new leader came into
power who used their power to eliminate their enemy or asked them to join them either way
previous party became weaker. But with time these men also started using those methods
that mass refused and in turn history going to repeat itself. Now in power party is not
interested in starting the JSW plan as it was started during previous regime is the common
thought between the villagers and they are angry over these thought.
Next we went to asnasuli, srikirshnopur, nutundehi and ramaraidihi. All these areas were
mabaids affected regions and many fights have been fought here. People are still
traumatized and don’t know how to get past all this. I heard from them that many of them
have become Harmads and they were also given weapon training for fighting. And one
thing that astonished me that how some of them could become harmad and done all this or
supported this in their villages. They also said that they feared that they might get caught up
in the fight between harmad and maobadis. Because generally there isn’t any particular
dress code for any of them.
People living in this region have many problem one of them is their inability to use their
land. Its impact is huge in their mind and it is a reason for triggering their anger which
resulted many destruction. When JSW came they came with many proposition for the
villagers and they promised a good future for the villagers but after all these day the work at
the site haven’t finished and they haven’t fulfilled their also. The socioeconomic standard is
also dipping all this are creating pressure on them and generating pessimism in them.
It is hard to conclude here because one trip is not enough to know all. Right now they have
many problem still need to be solved.
Nearby school and colleges
Health care facility
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Transparency in governance
These are only few of many that I have seen through my eyes and I believe if these are
solved their condition will never be the same. They are the force that provide grains for our
mouth and keeping them deprived from basic necessities is not acceptable.
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The Theory Contributed and Conclusion
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t is clear from the account that the land acquisition was not a success story for both the
land winners and land losers. For the land losers it is a troubled and losing narrative.
Their resistance and mourning for the loss went unnoticed as there is no centre of
power to produce a clear voice for them. The resistance and their demands are available as
fragments and ensemble of reasoning and emotion of loss. The land winners, surely being
the winners, have to face the local demands and grievances that will be handled with as
many techniques as they know to convert them to their advantages. The houses of capital
have already started to prompt and profess with the techniques of ‘social responsibilities’ for
the (poor) people in need. The direct conflicts regarding resources, especially air, water and
labour are yet to wait for the time to ripen, though the early signals already have set in.
There is no pre-existing Indian blue print how the dispossessed would react to the
dispossession and its aftermath. What they are experiencing make the road to their struggle
against dispossession and disembedding of the economy by the advent of neoliberal capital.
It is too early to project the future of the locality under industrialialisation regarding how
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society would respond to the impact of the changes and both dispossession and
disembedding would usher in deeper alteration of the local society and agriculture. The
political parties are hegemonised with the belief that restricted and controlled form of
industrialisation by the ‘big’ private capital would benefit the people and the regions of the
Indian nation. Therefore, it is theoretically hard to explain how the agents of the political
power, except some populist demands, would be able to support the causes of the
dispossessed class unequivocally. Rather the collaboration of class interests would be their
goals unless the movements and unrest of the losers, across the country, can bring the
political support back into their favour. Let us now summarise the points that the
ethnographic study can account for with regard to the theory, methodology and entailing
scopes for further study
a) Pretext: The ‘normalisation’ of anti-left political accusation was popularised, even
among the lefts, that unlike many other regions of India, West Bengal pathetically
lags behind in bringing private and intensive capital in industries, which seems to
bring structural change of the economy, to grow the job market and to reduce
‘industrialisation in West Bengal’, seemingly guided by the practical account of
economy of the region and by no theoretical model, had been arguably explicable by
the dual sector structural transformation theory of Lewis and explained as outdated
in an age of post-1970s crisis of capitalism and industrialisation during severe
neoliberal invasion all over the world
c) ABD: In this era of reinventing ‘primitive accumulation’ of early capitalism in the
form of ‘accumulation by dispossession’ of natural resource (especially land) and
labour power lying outside capitalist economy, it was a blunder of the left parties,
especially the CPI (M) to misread this present industrialisation by dispossession and
its effects, which are already set in fire in different parts of the World.
d) Wrong internalisation: They had the local control and vocabulary to make people
understand the truth and inevitability of such industrialisation in other parts of the
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country and gave them the options to enhance their interst and control over the
e) Wrong Application: Instead, their wrong theorisation and huge electoral support in
the regional level led them to the enforcement and imposition of industrialisation
with thee conception of doing well to the people and which the people retorted,
especially during the period of Maoist expansion in this region.
f) Means of ABD: Unlike the dominant view that the land transfer was peaceful and
successful, our ethnographic account has provided enough testimonies to cancel that
view. It was completed land transfer by force of different kinds. To conclude a few
Complying with the theory, extra-economic means of political
persuation and physical force
Use of hegemonic narrative of the benefit of the commons
Construction of consent by enforcing hope of rapid transformation of
the area, which by far has not been under the control of the political
brokers of power
The political party (CPIM) as a regimented broker or collaborator got
alientated from the people and finally defeated in the democratic
choice of the people.
People chose a new label of power (TMC) with the hope of protecting
themselves from the regimented force of CPI (M), though they are
completely satisfied with their choice and carry grievances of
The rebuttal of the enforcement confirms the indirect voice and
actively taken decision of the people
The villagers are by far engaged with all the bargains possible with
the two industrial houses to compensate for their dispossession that
ushered in damage in different dimensions of their life.
g) Disembedding : The disembedding of market from the social control is signalled by
the assessments of the disadvantages the villagers had and have to face in their
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Familial (e.g. family conflicts regarding share value of the benefits
Religious (e.g. displacement and enclosure of the ritual space,
Jaherthan, of the sandals)
Recreational (e.g. tussle regarding the space for games, football
Political (e.g. Absence of formal unions and rights to protest against
injustice by the contractors and industrial authorities)
Environmental (e.g. lowering of the level of ground water, the
disappearance of the wide and comfortable landscape, the rise of
summar temperature and humidity, deforestation)
Economic (e.g. Collapse of annual subsistence farming, rise in wage of
labour affecting cost of agricultural production, closure of frest-based
collection and sale, huge reduction of land for livestock gazing)
Communication (e.g. Intervillage distance )
h) Resistance and Class: The cognitive and emotional stress to see the land and other
property of the commons and individuals getting privatised and inaccessible has
resulted in the breaking of the boundary walls in certain intervals. The class nature is
on the move, because there are many small and middle farmers, whose agriculture
will be at stake and who may join the resistance in future to form the class in the
But what sorts of conclusions can be derived from an analysis of the sort here constructed?
To begin with, the whole history of the social democratic compromise and the subsequent
turn to neoliberalism indicates the crucial role played by class struggle in either checking or
restoring class power. Though it has been effectively disguised, we have lived through a
whole generation of sophisticated class struggle on the part of the upper strata to restore in
the west or, as in China and Russia, construct class dominance. To point to the necessity and
inevitability of class struggle is not to say that the way class is constituted is determined or
even determinable in advance. Class movements make themselves, though not under
conditions of their own choosing. And analysis shows that those conditions are currently
bifurcated into movements around expanded reproduction—in which the exploitation of
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wage labor and conditions defining the social wage are central issues—and movements
around accumulation by dispossession—in which everything from classic forms of primitive
accumulation through practices destructive of cultures, histories, and environments to the
depredations wrought by the contemporary forms of finance capital are the focus of
resistance. Finding the organic link between these different class currents is an urgent
theoretical and practical task. Analysis also shows that this has to occur in a
historicalgeographical trajectory of capital accumulation that is based in increasing
connectivity across space and time but marked by deepening uneven geographical
developments. Analysis also points up exploitable contradictions within the neoliberal
agenda. The gap between rhetoric (for the benefit of all) and realization (for the benefit of a
small ruling class) increases over space and time, and social movements have done much to
focus on that gap. The idea that the market is about fair competition is increasingly negated
by the facts of extraordinary monopoly, centralization, and internationalization on the part
of corporate and financial powers. The startling increase in class and regional inequalities
both within states (such as India, China, Russia, Mexico, and in Southern Africa) as well as
internationally poses a serious political problem that can no longer be swept under the rug
as something transitional on the way to a perfected neoliberal world. The neoliberal
emphasis upon individual rights and the increasingly authoritarian use of state power to
sustain the system become a flashpoint of contentiousness. The more neoliberalism is
recognized as a failed if not untruthful and utopian project masking the restoration of class
power, the more it lays the basis for a resurgence of mass movements voicing egalitarian
political demands, seeking economic justice, fair trade, and greater economic security and
But it is the profoundly antidemocratic nature of neoliberalism that should surely be
the main focus of political struggle. Institutions with enormous leverage, like the Federal
Reserve, are outside any democratic control. Internationally, the lack of elementary
accountability let alone democratic control over institutions such as the IMF, the WTO, and
the World Bank, to say nothing of the great private power of financial institutions, makes a
mockery of any credible concern about democratization. To bring back demands for
democratic governance and for economic, political, and cultural equality and justice is not to
suggest some return to a golden past since the meanings in each instance have to be
207 | P a g e
reinvented to deal with contemporary conditions and potentialities. That is a key point of
many of the struggles now emerging.
The more clearly oppositional movements recognize that their central objective must
be to confront the class power that has been so effectively restored under neoliberalization,
the more they will be likely to cohere. Tearing aside the neoliberal mask and exposing its
seductive rhetoric, used so aptly to justify and legitimate the restoration of that power, has a
significant role to play in contemporary struggles. It took neoliberals many years to set up
and accomplish their march through the institutions of contemporary capitalism. We can
expect no less of a struggle when pushing in the opposite direction.
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